Aztecas Youth Soccer Program staff have more than 30 collective years of experience with at-risk youth, as well as enduring relationships with collaborative community agencies, such as PVPSA. Several Aztecas youth are being served by PVPSA in local schools, and through counseling sessions, and their families are referred by Probation to PVPSA for parenting classes and counseling. Additionally, several Aztecas youth participate in BASTA.  PVPSA also refers their at-risk youth to the Aztecas. 


Coaching Staff

Gina Castañeda, Founder and Head Coach

Deputy Probation Officer Gina Castaneda founded the Aztecas Soccer Program in 2008 for Latino juvenile probationers who affiliate with both Norteño and Sureño gangs.

As an adolescent raised in a gang family in Watsonville, Gina experienced intervals of homelessness and domestic violence while witnessing most of her siblings become involved in the criminal justice system.  Gina avoided gang entrenchment by playing soccer in high school. She learned self-esteem and a more positive life path that ultimately motivated her to reach out and help her community’s most at-risk youth. Ms. Castañeda is the heart of the program. Her story and the origins of the Aztecas are featured in the ESPN documentary, “The Save.” 

Awards and Recognition

2007: County of Santa Cruz Probation Officer of the Year

2009: Jefferson Award for Santa Cruz County

2010 Aptos High School Hall of Fame for Outstanding Accomplishments

2011: California Assembly’s 28th District first Peace Award

2012 American Red Cross Lifetime Achievement Hero Award

2014: Tony Hill Award for Community Activism in Santa Cruz County

2015: Grand Marshall, Watsonville’s 4th of July Celebration

2015: Community Healer, California Health Report (link)









Former players turn peer mentors





Advisory Board

Yolanda Perez-Logan, President
Assistant Director, Juvenile Division of Santa Cruz County Probation Dept

Jeri Ross, Vice-President
President/CEO of Institut’ DERMed Clinical Skin Care


Tom Moore, Treasurer
Treasurer, Freedom Lions Club Board


Sara Anderson, Secretary
Counselor, Encompass-Families Together


Gina Castaneda
Juvenile Probation Officer, Santa Cruz County Probation Dept


Julia Feldman

Adult Probation Officer, Santa Cruz County Probation Dept


Fernando Giraldo

Chief, Santa Cruz County Probation Dept


David A. “Tony” Hoffman, Ph.D.

Professor, UC Santa Cruz


Fernando Lopez

Police Officer, City of Watsonville Police Department


Maureen Moore

President, Freedom Lions Club Board


Susan Paradise
Counselor, Encompass-Families Together


Hillel Rom
Soccer Trainer/Business Owner


Marco Santillan
CEO, Futbol Global LLC


Alan Vasquez
Videographer/Business Owner


Patricio Castañeda, Indoor Assistant Coach