Heart of The City empowers its players, coaches, and their families through the sport of soccer, promoting opportunities for personal development, academic achievement, and college success. 

Our History

Founded by community members in 2014, Heart of the City was formed to address the lack of access to quality youth soccer programs for families in Waukegan, IL and surrounding communities. The charitable organization coupled its existing recreation league with a competitive travel program. The two programs now exist side-by-side, further increasing access to year-round soccer opportunities and the invaluable life lessons that they provide.

Today HOTC has grown to nearly 500 players. A volunteer-driven organization, parents enjoy many different ways to become actively involved in their children's participation in the sport of soccer. Through the experience and expertise of our volunteers and community partners, Heart of the City is extending its reach beyond the field, helping families build a strong foundation for their children's future.

Our Mission

Heart of the City provides an opportunity for youth in the Lake County area to participate in recreational and competitive soccer activities.

We believe that all youth should have access to high-quality sports programs and to academic learning opportunities.

As a result, we endeavor to teach our players to be competitive on the field, successful in their school, and productive in their community.

Our Focus

Soccer is not just a popular sport. It is also a powerful pathway to youth development. Our goal is to ensure no one needs to sit on the sidelines; over 65% of youth who participate in HOTC programs come from low-income homes.

Because access to soccer is also shaped by gender, we are focusing efforts on increasing the participation rate for girls in both our recreation and travel league programs. We aim to level the playing field, increasing girls' visible, active presence in youth soccer experiences, providing girls with not only the opportunity to learn new skills, but also to lead by example. Defining success not only as winning on the field, but as having goals and working toward achieving them, we will help families foster competence in children through positive engagement and service experiences that help address the needs of our community.

Heart of the City Mission

Our Values

Determination: HOTC players must be driven and goal-minded. Young people will meet challenges on and off the field and conquer them.

Dedication: HOTC players commit to giving 100% to everything they do in academics, in service and in soccer. They will understand that cheating only results in cheating themselves.

Desire: HOTC players will have a competitive fire to achieve excellence, understanding that if they think they've reached the ultimate point of success they have lost the most important piece of the puzzle: Going for what they want in life makes them more successful than those who just wait for life to happen.

Discipline: HOTC players display discipline even when others aren't looking. They celebrate success not just with their teammates but with other teams. They do what is necessary to achieve success not just on the pitch but in life.

Heart of the City
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