Community Focus: Inspiring story leads Quakes to Watsonville

San Jose players to visit embattled youth in Aztecas Soccer Program

Ellis McLoughlin and Joey Gjertsen Community Focus

Photo Credit: 
San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose Earthquakes players will be in Watsonville on Friday for a special screening of ESPN documentary “The Save” featuring a local probation officer and her effort to bring rival gang members together on the soccer field.

Cameras have been following the inspirational story of Gina Castañeda and her gang intervention program for months in the creation of an ESPN documentary that will air during the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. Castañeda, a Watsonville deputy probation officer, started a soccer program called “Aztecas” three years ago as a way to help troubled teens find a positive activity. Castañeda herself was literally raised in the streets and is a walking success story to show that anything is possible with the right mentality.

“When I first heard about the Aztecas program, I was excited to get out there and interact with their kids. Their story is an inspiration to me and my teammates,” said Earthquakes midfielder Ellis McLoughlin.

McLoughlin will be joined by Steven Lenhart, Joey Gjertsen and Quakes club ambassador Kelly Gray at the viewing party on Friday. The group will sign autographs, pose for photographs and interact with members of the Aztecas. The Earthquakes have also donated tickets to the Aztecas program to attend a July 2 match against the New York Red Bulls at Stanford Stadium.

The ESPN documentary titled “The Save” is one in a series of six short documentaries collectively known as HERoics that focuses on women’s courage, perseverance, breaking through barriers, failure, and eventual redemption. On Friday, June 24, the Santa Cruz County Probation Department will host a showing of “The Save.” The documentary will be shown in full for a select group at 3:45 p.m. PT and then a clip will be shown for invited guests at 5:30 p.m. PT at the Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Rooms.