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Heart of Los Angeles is thrilled to welcome back alumna Maria Cabrera as a soccer coach and the instructor of HOLA’s Play Soccer club. Maria comes to HOLA through Coach Across America, a program of Up2Us. Maria first started coming to HOLA in the 9th grade and continued coming throughout high school, taking advantage of the free SAT preparation classes and getting help with her college applications. During high school, Maria also played in HOLA’s soccer league with other young women from her high school. Upon graduation from high school, Maria applied for and was awarded a scholarship from HOLA, helping cover the cost of college tuition. She began her post-secondary studies at Glendale Community College and with dedication and tenacity, she was able to transfer to Cal State Los Angeles, where she is currently studying psychology.

Maria was introduced to Coach Across America by HOLA’s Athletics Director Bruce Hooks. Bruce had recently started the partnership with Play Soccer, an international nonprofit that empowers youth in underserved communities around the globe, the first of its kind in Los Angeles and one of only two sites in the country. After two sessions, he was given the opportunity to bring on an additional coach to help run the program. The HOLA staff unanimously agreed that Maria would be a perfect fit for the position. She was passionate about soccer and she needed a job to help support herself and her young daughter while she was going to school. Her passion and strong connection to HOLA led her right back to where she had started: the beautiful synthetic soccer field in Lafayette Park. She now has her own team of kids and each week she teaches lessons that focus on leading healthy and productive lives. The group also spends time training for Play Soccer tournaments.

Maria will always have a special connection to HOLA, particularly because she is thrilled to report that her 8 year-old daughter is currently in her second year in the SmartStart program! She credits HOLA with teaching her essential skills for success, including networking and resourcefulness.


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