Heart of the City is committed to providing a just, equitable, inclusive, and diverse space for our student athletes, families, staff, and board members.



boys and girls ages 5-14 were introduced to soccer through our 2023 Grassroots camps and clinics in the community


Learn More About Grassroots


boys and girls ages 5-14 joined our 2023 recreational Soccer Academy and gained basic soccer and life skills


Learn More About Academy


boys and girls ages 8-19 enrolled in our 2023 Elite Travel Soccer Academy with college and career training components


Learn More About Elite


Heart of the City uses soccer as the vehicle to teach youth essential life skills, develop them as leaders and mentors, and connect them with postsecondary opportunities. We prepare our athletes for life after high school, while keeping active and developing not only as an athlete, but also as a member of the community.

Our members include youth ages 5-19 from Lake County, including Waukegan, Gurnee, Zion, North Chicago, Round Lake, Highland Park, Highwood, and other nearby communities with approximately 70% qualifying for free or reduced lunch.



After School Camps & Clinics
Free, introductory experiences for the community

Soccer Academy
Developmental in-house soccer program for boys & girls age 4-14

HOTC Elite Travel Team
Competitive soccer and post-secondary-readiness program for High School boys and girls

And Beyond
Our programs help motivate youth and prepare for high school graduation and beyond!

"My favorite part of being with Heart of the City is that they truly care about their players. They want us to be successful on the field, but also in life and help prepare us for the future. The fact that they care has been the most impactful for me because no other team I know cares enough to think about their players once they get off the field."

Mariana Tejeda, Heart of the City Athlete

"Being a soccer enthusiast for 62 years now, I see certain clubs that are made strictly to win, strictly to dominate, strictly to be a driving force to get trophies and awards, and then I see Heart of the City -- who certainly would love to be in those categories, too -- but the most important thing for Heart of the City is the development of the children.

In Waukegan, there are children in single-parent households, there are children with absent parents, there are children basically who have no direction, no structure. Heart of the City provides them a very structured environment where they learn to be responsible, and they learn to be efficient in what they do. And that’s something that many are not getting at home. I’m very proud to be associated with Heart of the City."

Wayne Motley, Former Waukegan Mayor

“I love what y’all do here. It’s not about winning at all cost. My son was playing at a different soccer league and he would say ‘Dad this isn’t fun’. Here the coaches are a lot more involved teaching all the players and moving them around in different positions. You can see they care about developing players.”


Brandon K., Soccer Academy parent

"My time with Heart of the City has definitely been an amazing experience. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing people who I consider my second family. HOTC has given me phenomenal opportunities that have shaped my path in life. Although I will be far from home, I know HOTC will be with me in my heart helping me push through my new beginnings. I wouldn't have been able to surpass obstacles in my path without the support HOTC has given me."

Jocy Anguiano, Heart of the City Alumn - Class of 22'

“I love how all of the coaches work with all of the players. They’ll demo the moves they're working on for that week, and they have the patience to breakdown each movement so everyone understand how to perform steps. Heart of the City has the best coaches that care about making the experience enjoyable and challenging.”

Eunice J., parent from after-school clinic

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