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PeacePlayers Los Angeles is building a movement of young leaders locally in Watts and South Los Angeles who are also connected to our national and global network of youth leaders advocating for a more peaceful and equitable society

About Us

PeacePlayers youth develop their personal skills, potential, and their talents to become leaders in LA. PeacePlayers LA creates a culture of teamwork, belonging, and peer-to-peer support with the aim to impact young people starting with how they see themselves and their role in their community and in the world. Through PeacePlayers’ Leadership Pipeline Model, we engage youth long-term, constituting a reliable and trustworthy presence in their lives as they move from childhood to adulthood, adapting our program to the changing needs of youth as they grow.

Advocates

Culture of Teamwork

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Cultivating Belonging

Divides

Facilitating Peer-to-Peer Support

Our Programming

PeacePlayers Los Angeles, within a nationwide network, engages over 300 youth, ages 8-18, in year-round and multi-year basketball training, conflict resolution education and leadership development activities. Programs are divided as follows: 

PeacePlayers LA Peace League

Peace League

Peace League is a 6 week program where we build curriculum around the game of basketball that provides a safe space for youth to have fun, be themselves, feel supported and where they will be introduced to PeacePlayers Core Values as well as the characteristics of a leader.  We have partnered with Markham Middle School, The Salvation Army, (ADD) The Boys and Girls Club, Watts-Willowbrook and the Watts Empowerment Center to deliver our Peace League program seasonally throughout the year. Through this program we are working with 300+ youth annually.  

PeacePlayers LA LDP

Jr. LDP

Jr. LDP is a 7 week program for a select group of youth that have consistently been engaged in PPLA programming and proven to be great teammates and leaders throughout our work with them. We believe they have the potential to be positive youth ambassadors and change agents for their community. We meet 3X a week with the Jr. LDP team and go through various sessions focused on basketball development, team building and a deep dive into leadership development. We launched our inaugural Jr. LDP season Winter of 2021 with 15 youth from the Los Angeles community and are excited to grow our numbers and impact as we expand our partnerships and programs.  

The Friendship Games 20th anniversary

Global Friendship Games

Our Global Friendship Games program is where youth leaders from across our five sites are brought together for a week of basketball, leadership development and cultural exchange. 

National Girls Summit

National Girls Summit

Our National Girls Summit is where girls from across our five cities are selected locally to engage with girls, coaches and leaders from our other US sites. 

Our Impact

Being a PeacePlayer means to me...

Meet PeacePlayers Los Angeles Director, Evan Unrau
"I have always believed in the ability of sport to break down barriers and create bonds that transcend even the starkest of differences. When I heard of an organization that was intentionally using basketball as a tool to bridge divides in conflict areas, I immediately wanted to be involved."
Jonathon Sanchez, Leadership Development Participant
Since joining, Jonathon has become a true leader in our LDP program. He not only leads with his basketball skills, but with his actions as well, leading drills and team building activities for other kids.
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Upcoming events

Our Team

Evan Unrau

Evan Unrau

Director, PeacePlayers Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles

Email: eunrau@peaceplayers.org

Evan joins PeacePlayers as the new Director of PeacePlayers, Los Angeles.  Evan comes to PeacePlayers after serving as the Manager of Youth Basketball for the LA Clippers since the 2018 season. With the Clippers, Unrau was responsible for overseeing all youth engagement including the organization and facilitation of a robust year-round Clippers Youth Basketball camp schedule and was also responsible for helping grow the Jr. Clippers program into one of the NBA’s largest youth basketball programs with over 100,000 kids in the Southern California region.

 

Also with the Clippers, Unrau continued her commitment to engaging girls in sport with the delivery of “Her Time to Play” events that are a national NBA and WNBA initiative dedicated to championing change on behalf of girls and women. Unrau was asked to speak at the 2019 Jr. NBA conference on the topic of Girls Participation. In 2019 Unrau was selected as one of 9 women to represent the Clippers organization at the 2019 NBA Women’s Leadership conference hosted in New York City. Unrau was also a subcommittee leader for the Clippers diversity and inclusion task force LACED-UP (Leadership & Action for Change, Equality & Diversity, United for Progress) where she and team members were focused on career path planning and hiring strategies to support the organization.

 

Before transitioning to the Clippers, Unrau spent time with the Positive Coaching Alliance, Los Angeles Chapter as the Project Support Manager where she helped support community partners in the delivery of PCA Coach Education programming. Unrau had the opportunity to work with PeacePlayers multiple summers starting in 2014 serving as the VIP of its youth basketball camps held in Cyprus.

 

Unrau also enjoyed an extensive career at various levels as a college women’s basketball coach. Unrau spent 3 years with the UCSB Gauchos where she served as the Associate Head Coach under Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson and as an assistant under former Gaucho Head Coach and current Cleveland Cavaliers assistant Coach Lindsay Gottlieb.  During her first run on the UCSB sideline back in 2008-09, she helped the Gauchos to a 22-10 overall record, a Big West Tournament title and a berth in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Unrau arrived in Santa Barbara after serving as the Special Assistant to Hall of Fame Head Coach, Tara VanDerveer, at Stanford for the 2014-15 season, during which the Cardinal secured a Pac-12 Championship and a Sweet 16 appearance. Her history with the Cardinal dates back to the 2007-08 season when she was the team’s video coordinator during a historic season that saw the Cardinal win the Pac-10 championship and secure Final 4 and title game appearances.

 

Unrau is no stranger to Los Angeles basketball. She coached at the University of Southern California, from 2012 to 2014 as an assistant coach in charge of post-player development while also aiding in recruiting and scouting efforts. She also oversaw the Women of Troy’s academic supervision. Most memorable from her USC experience was Unrau’s instrumental role in the Women of Troy’s historic run at the 2014 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, in which the Trojans won four games in four days to claim the championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  

 

Prior to USC, Unrau was the recruiting coordinator for the Santa Clara Broncos from 2009-2012 where she worked with the post players and was the program’s recruiting coordinator. Before the 2011-12 season, Unrau helped SCU sign one of the NCAA’s top recruiting classes when ESPN ranked the Broncos’ incoming class No. 55 nationally, a huge accomplishment for a mid-major university with no football program.

Unrau maintains close ties to the players she coached to this day, writing reference letters, engaging them in programs and being a mentor as they navigate their post-basketball careers.

 

A four-year letter winner at Missouri, she earned Honorable Mention All-America honors after guiding the Tigers to their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance her senior season. A two-time first team all-league selection, Unrau captained the United States team at the 2003 World University Games in Daegu, South Korea, which was comprised of an all-star cadre from the Big-12. Unrau was also a 3-time Big-12 Academic 1st team selection, Kodak/WBCA All-American Finalist and the recipient of the Athletics Director Post Graduate Scholarship award. She was drafted by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in the third round in 2004 and played professionally overseas for two seasons. Most recently in 2017 Unrau was inducted into the SEC Legends Class.

 

A native of Fort Collins, Colorado, Unrau graduated from Missouri in 2004 with a degree in psychology and went on to earn her masters in health education and promotion from Missouri in 2006. Unrau currently resides in Los Angeles with her wife and spends her free time traveling and coaching a local girls AAU team, the Cal Sparks.

Coach Natalie Gutierrez

Natalie Gutierrez

Program Manager, Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles
Email: ngutierrez@peaceplayers.org

Natalie Gutierrez joins PeacePlayers as the new Program Coordinator for PeacePlayers LA.

Natalie was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and has always had an attachment to and love for the game of basketball. Her desire to lead and inspire others began the first moment she touched a basketball and got on the court with her teammates. She graduated from Granada Hills High School in 2014. During her 2012-2013 season with the Highlanders, Gutierrez won a Division 2 City Championship and was named Second Team All-City and First Team All-League. In her 2013-2014 season, she was named Most Valuable Player All-League.

 

Following high school, Gutierrez attended Glendale College and played for the women’s basketball program for the 2014-2015 season. After her first year, she then transferred to Citrus College for her 2015-2016 season where she played under WNBA and Tennessee Alumni, Loree Moore. She graduated from Citrus College with her Associate’s Degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences.

 

Gutierrez continued her educational career at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she graduated in 2018 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a minor in Sports Management.

 

Since 2015 and while in the process of pursuing her educational goals, Gutierrez, most commonly referred to as “Coach Nat” or “Nat”, has been coaching basketball as a player development specialist, club coach, high school & college coach. Her purpose has been to utilize basketball as a driving agent to inspire, motivate and empower athletes to become the best version of themselves. She focuses on instilling confidence within her players and is always servicing those in need of positive direction.

 

Listed below are the programs she’s assisted/assists:

  • TVT [The Valley Team] Club Basketball (2015-current)

  • Calabasas High School (2018-current)

  • LA Youth Clippers Basketball (2019-current)

  • LA Valley College (2020-current)

  • Harvard Westlake School (2016-2018)

  • Crossroads School in Santa Monica (2017-2018)



In addition to working for the programs and organizations listed above, Coach Nat has led multiple Nike clinics for the communities in Los Angeles. During the summer of 2019, she led Community Basketball events in East LA, coached alongside San Dixon for the Jr. Drew League and had the pleasure of leading her own team for Kobe Bryant’s Mamba League.

Wayne PeacePlayers LA

Wayne Freeman

Manager, PeacePlayers Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles
Email: wfreeman@peaceplayers.org

Wayne Freeman grew up playing basketball in Chino, CA, playing at the Park East neighborhood park, Briggs fundamental school, and the Neighborhood Activity Center before helping lead the Don Lugo Conquistadores boys varsity high school basketball team to the CIF playoffs as the starting point guard, co-captain, and 2005 leadership player of the year. He then moved on to coach youth basketball and serve as a Community Service leader and specialist for the City of Chino for 8 years, working in various after school, athletic, educational, and community service and outreach programs. After receiving his BA degree in Anthropology from the University of California Riverside, he went on to earn his MA degree in Communication, and his PhD (ABD) degree in Ethnic Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. In Colorado, he also served as an Athletics specialist for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, coordinated and conducted qualitative research on community-based sports, education, and mentorship programs at the high school and college level, and spent 8 years as an instructor for the University of Colorado Boulder, teaching multiple courses for the Communication department and the Ethnic Studies department, especially Critical Sports Studies, which examines the interplay of sports and society. He also served as a basketball clinic instructor for the Boulder Empowerment Center in Lafayette, CO, a tutor for the CU Boulder athletics department, instructor and Critical Sports and Movement coordinator for the CU Boulder Aquetza program, and Boys and Girls club boys 16-18 basketball coach. Most recently, his roles have included the Critical Sports coach for the SoCal Heat basketball club, integrating teachings on basketball history, sports and society, and community service projects into basketball training and conducting research on the program, and an Outreach Worker for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in Los Angeles. Wayne lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children. He is very excited to join Peace Players Los Angeles!

Bryana Williams

Bryana Williams

Head Coach, PeacePlayers Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles
Email: bwilliams@peaceplayers.org

Bryana played her high school basketball at Cleveland High School in Los Angeles, CA, where she was the #1 player in the LA City Section and was a top 10 player in the state of California her senior year.  Williams had her jersey retired at Cleveland HS where she broke the school scoring record and rebounding record.

 

She continued her playing career at Cal Baptist University from 2006-2010, when CBU was in the GSAC.  During her stretch at CBU, she was slated as one of the top rebounders in the GSAC and led the conference in rebounding her junior season.  With the direct experience playing in the GSAC, this will position Coach Williams to recruit effectively for a team with hopes of competing at the top of the conference.

 

Although she had opportunities to play professionally, Bryana decided that she wanted to turn her focus to her coaching career.  Just previously coached at LPU, Coach Bryana is entering her 14th year as a coach, in a career that has seen her coach at all levels, including youth, high school, NAIA, and NCAA.  Along with her ample years of coaching, she also is a youth development coach for the LA Clippers and PeacePlayers LA. She owns her own non-profit business, “B Better U”, which focuses on coaching and mentoring the youth on personal and leadership development.  With her non-profit, Coach Williams has strong ties and impact within the local community and throughout the entire SoCal region.

Our LOCAL Partners

Nike

Nike Los Angeles

Boys and Girls Club Baltimore

Boys & Girls Club of Metro Los Angeles

Watts Labor Community Action Committee

Watts Labor Community Action Committee

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Siemon Family Youth & Community Center

MarkHam Middle School

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