Chivas USA team with schools to save socce

Mayén on hand as club pledges to help combat LA budget deficit

Soccer saved Gerson Mayén’s life. Literally.

The young Chivas USA
midfielder grew up in a tough part of Los
Angeles and admits that his life would have been a lot
different if he hadn’t had soccer during his formative years.

Now a proud member of the Red-and-White, the 21 year-old Manual
Arts High School alumnus gets to serve as part of the effort to offer the same
opportunities to other LA-area high school soccer players. 

Chivas USA
has teamed up with the Los
Angeles Unified School District and the LA 84 Foundation
to help preserve boys’ and girls’ high school soccer at 68 local schools. The
partnership was announced at a press conference on Thursday morning, where
Mayén was on hand to represent Chivas USA.

“LA is a tough place,” said Mayén. “There are a lot of gangs
and drugs. I grew up right across the street from gangsters, but playing soccer
helped save me from that.”

Mayén’s story is not an unusual one in Los Angeles. Thursday’s press conference saw
a number of student-athletes describe the ways in which sports have helped them
to succeed in life and avoid getting into trouble.

“Our coaches are people who truly push us to do our best,
and be the best that we can be in our lives,” said Daniel Ruvalcaba, a junior fullback
at Banning High School. “They put us in the right
direction. Without our coaches, we would be stripped of the people that inspire
us most.”

With a $640 million deficit projected for the 2010-2011
school year, the LAUSD had been in danger of making budget cuts that would
endanger competitive sports in Los Angeles.

But thanks to organizations like Chivas USA, the LA84
Foundation, and other area civic and philanthropic leaders, enough money has
been raised to support athletics for the more than 35,000 student athletes in
the city.

“I play soccer at El Camino Real High School and would like
to thank Chivas for contributing to keep all the coaches in our schools,” said
student-athlete Brittany Charles. “Soccer means everything to me.”

Chivas USA President and CEO Shawn Hunter was also on hand
to celebrate the partnership, which he feels will be a major part of the
Red-and-White’s charitable efforts in years to come.

“We’re proud to be part of the LAUSD family,” Hunter said. “For
Chivas, this commitment to Los Angeles
goes way beyond today. We’re looking at this as a long-term partnership.
Working with the district to make these programs something that the students,
families, and teachers can all be proud of.”

“I ran track in high school and I played soccer, and I can’t
imagine not having that opportunity,” he continued. “It made me a better
person, a better student, got me to college, and I’ve been very fortunate to
have a wonderful career in sports. This is a great day and we’re proud to be
part of it.”