Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward Week Unites the NCAA Community to Make a World of Difference for People with Autism

Basketball coaches and teams can still register for the national campaign to help to increase understanding and inclusion during February 21-28 games

January 31, 2023
Coaches Powering Forward - Vertical Logo

NEW YORK (January 31, 2023)  – National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball teams across the country will display their support for the autism community by wearing Autism Speaks puzzle-piece pins at games during the week of February 21-28. Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward campaign is an annual effort to bring college basketball coaches, teams, schools, broadcasters and fans together to raise understanding and inclusion, with the goal of creating a world where all people with autism can reach their full potential. Since the campaign’s founding, participation has grown to 324 NCAA teams, with teams such as Duke, Marquette, TCU and UConn joining this year’s campaign.

Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward was created in 2014 after two NCAA coaches embarked on a mission to raise awareness of autism. Inspired by their children who were diagnosed with autism, they made a simple request to fellow coaches: Wear the Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece pin during the televised February weekend games. In an overwhelming response, more than 82 NCAA coaches and broadcasters took to the sidelines and airwaves throughout the weekend wearing the puzzle pin that first year.

Coach Pat Skerry of the Towson Tigers men’s basketball team and Coach Colleen Mullen of the UAlbany Great Danes women’s basketball team will lead Coaches Powering Forward 2023. The coaches share the experiences of having children on the spectrum and were united through the Autism Speaks community.

“As a co-founder of the Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward campaign, I’m so proud of the role we’ve played in increasing awareness and acceptance, as well as in driving unity with the autism community over the years,” said Coach Skerry. “Coach Mullen and I are honored to continue fostering understanding by supporting Autism Speaks mission. As a father of a young man on the spectrum, I know that our efforts can make a world of difference in the lives of people with autism.”

“I’m thrilled to partner with Coach Skerry for Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward campaign for the second year in a row, and to have coaches, players and fans across the nation join us in showing their support for the autism community,” said Coach Mullen. “Standing together, we have the power to inspire positive change and encourage inclusivity so that all autistic individuals, like my twin sons, can feel accepted and empowered to reach their full potential.”

Fans can join the conversation on social media by tagging @autismspeaks and using #autismhoops during Coaches Powering Forward week and throughout the season. Teams and fans are also encouraged to show their support and commitment to the autism community by wearing their pins year-round.

There’s still time to register for this year’s Autism Speaks Coaches Powering Forward campaign! Coaches that enroll before February 4, 2023 will receive FREE pins to wear at games during the week of February 21-28. Sign up at

Autism Speaks is committed to supporting the needs of individuals with autism, across the spectrum and through the lifespan, and their families, and 89 cents of every dollar supports research, advocacy, programs and services.  To learn more about Autism Speaks and how you can support the mission, visit


About autism  

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors influences the development of autism, and autism often is accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children. 

About Autism Speaks  

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to Learn more by following @AutismSpeaks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.