New Documentary Will Feature Southern California “High School Soccer Miracle”
In 2009, history teacher Kyle Hagenburger took a position at the newly opened charter school King-Chavez Community High School in downtown San Diego. Focusing on students from one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, Logan Heights, the goal was to help young people to avoid the gang-and-crime culture that plagued the community. As a part of the team developing the curriculum for the first 9th grade class, Hagenburger wanted to start a soccer program to help give the students another alternative.
Over the summer an introductory soccer camp was organized and the beginning of a program was put in place. Although most of the players had no organized soccer experience, that didn’t hold them back from wanting to take the field for their new school. Neither did the fact that many of them spoke little or no English and Hagenburger did not speak Spanish. With the help of volunteers and the support of the school, the King-Chavez Vaqueros – nicknamed the Mighty Green – took the pitch in the Frontier League and claimed championships in their first three years.
The way was not all smooth, though. While the boys’ team won their first ever game against Morse High School, it wasn’t until halfway through the season that they had a home field – a patchy field at another school in Logan Heights. Gang activity was a constant disruption, from tagging of the teams goal to attacks on players. With the lure of gangs, drugs and money prevalent in the community, a few players were lost to the lure of the street. Others dropped out to help support their families. But through it all Hagenburger and his teams – at first a boys’ and a girls’ team and later junior and senior varsities of each – persevered.
Not only did the program persevere, it succeeded beyond all expectations – both on the field and off. In spite of having only freshmen and sophomores in the school, in the second year Hagenburger developed a varsity program that won Frontier League Championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Off the field, players began to improve their grades so they could remain on the team. Amazingly, college scouts began to attend varsity matches to recruit upcoming seniors.
In 2012 Hagenburger and Carmen Caserta of consulting service Red Stiletto Strategies partnered to bring the story of the Mighty Green to the public. Working with editor Dominic Valiente, they have combed through hours of footage to put together the project. Now the team is releasing the official movie trailer in a screening on July 1 at Porto Vista Hotel in San Diego’s Little Italy district. All ages are welcome, and proceeds from the suggested $20 admission donation will go toward post-production costs of the film.
For more information about the Mighty Green Vaqueros, visit their blog at http://themightygreenblog.com/ or their Facebook page The Mighty Green Vaqueros. They can also be found on Twitter @TheMightyGreen and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/themightygreen. The Facebook events page for the Official Trailer Screening has additional information on the event.