Vance Wy

Foss Park Commissio

News Room

From the community: Heart of the City reaches into community to kick off 2018

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on February 8, 2018 at 12:15 AM


From the community: Heart of the City reaches into community to kick off 2018

Community Contributor Adrienne Wright

February 8, 2018, 12:14 am

Some roles have changed at Heart of the City, but the excitement remains for the staff members serving as its senior management team.

Kicking off the new soccer year with a fundraiser at Robert Abbott Middle School, the nonprofit renewed their effort to keep soccer affordable for families with the help of community leaders like Mayor Sam Cunningham, 4th Ward Alderman David Villalobos, Lake County Board Member Vance D. Wyatt, Waukegan School Board Member Brandon Ewing, Waukegan Main Street Board Member Anton Mathews, Deputy Chief Gabe Guzman of the Waukegan Police Department, and Manny Hernandez of the Waukegan Public Library.

The first-ever Penalty Kick Fundraiser for the nonprofit raised nearly $2,000 to help support the 2018 Outdoor Recreation season thanks to event underwriting by Family Chiropractic & Sports Rehab and The Xcel Group. Vendors from 15 community partners and 20 volunteer goalies from the community also helped to make the event a success.

A week after the fundraiser, the youth development organization held its 2018 Kick Off at the Genesee Theatre. Scott McLellan, who recently took on the role of Executive Director for HOTC, introduced his new leadership team and program plan for the year.

Elena Lara was announced as the organization's new Director of Recreation Programs. Lara, who has been with the organization since its founding, introduced her new program team and shared exciting news about the future growth of the nonprofit.

Currently, Heart of the City has nearly 400 players in its co-ed programming, but the organization hopes to add two new ages groups in the spring, making its year-long recreational soccer offerings open to players 5-16 years of age. Other exciting news included the re-branding of the organization's travel program under the "HOTC Elite" banner.

"We are creating a culture and structure, where our players will have the opportunity to progress through our program to play on our highest-level teams," shared Dean Smith, new Director of Soccer Development for Heart of the City. "Quality coaching staff additions and a new curriculum focusing on the four main components of the game, Mental, Physical, Technical, and Tactical development, will help us to effectively train all players to reach the next phase of their development."

Adrienne Wright, who has served in the role of Director of Development for HOTC since last May, welcomed Andreina Banales to the position of Development Associate. Other administrative team changes include the promotion of Mayrani Rios to the position of Program Administrator and the addition of Letisia Gutierrez as HOTC's new Executive Assistant.

Highlighting the event was the first public showing of the organization's new promotional video, which is now available on YouTube and their website.

Created with the help of Free Spirit Media, a Chicago-based organization that provides opportunities for emerging creators, primarily from communities of color, to produce and distribute media content, the video is intended to inspire people to support what HOTC is doing to help change the trajectory of young lives in Lake County.

Next up on Heart of the City's calendar of events for the new year is a service event for teams at Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville on February 17th.

"It's a new year and there are some new faces and people in new roles," shared Scott McLellan, "But our focus is the same: We want to provide the best and most affordable opportunities for kids in the community to reach their full potential on and off the soccer field."

About Heart of the City

Heart of the City changes the trajectory of young lives in Lake County, IL by ensuring affordable access to organized soccer experiences. The charitable nonprofit inspires its players to become competitive on the field, successful in the classroom, and productive in the community. For more information visit or email


Categories: Lake County Board