To Catherine Martinez, soccer isn't just a game, it's a way a life, a way to bring hope to others.
She played on the Varsity team at Mount Vernon High School in Fairfax County while excelling in the International Baccalaureate Program.
"I learned by taking IB classes there isn't one perspective, there are many perspectives. It taught me to be a more open-minded person. IB really stimulated this initiative to leave my bubble and do something creative and philanthropic"
Mount Vernon Principal Anthony Terrell says it’s about expanding their students sense of community, "Students not only consume knowledge but produce knowledge and use that to solve real world problems. We produce students that have a global focus."
For Catherine, she turned her global focus and love of soccer onto a small town in Honduras.
"My family is from Honduras. I consider myself from Honduras. People have a bad misunderstanding of Honduras throughout the world and I want to change that. People there are so nice, they work hard and I just want to show that to the world."
On a trip to Anjelitos, Catherine noticed there weren't any opportunities for girls to play soccer, they didn't even have actual soccer balls to play with.
"Soccer is a big deal in Central America. It's a royal sport. I knew everyone loved to play, both boys and girls, but boys are given more opportunities to play. “
This inspired Catherine to start the non-profit, El Triunfo Spirit.
"El Triunfo means the triumph. I love that it's called that. They work so hard. That is their attitude and exemplifies the name"
Catherine created a girls soccer team in Anjelitos, raised money for equipment, coordinated everything from here in the states and in the spring of 2016, Catherine returned to Anjelitos to meet her soccer team, but got more than she expected.
"First I thought it was just the 24 girls I had recruited for the team, but soon the whole community came. Everyone started playing boys and girls enlightening moment."
Aside from soccer equipment, Catherine also sends school supplies to the kids in Anjelitos and has started a GoFundMe Page to rebuild the town’s ONLY elementary school.
“I want to show that any kid can do something like this, create a positive impact around the world.”
It's Catherine’s passion and selflessness that has made her alma mater and Principal Terrell proud.
"I'm just peacock proud of her. The IB program allows students to really follow their passions. This program she started is proof positive that given the right kind of support and the right kinds of encouragement students can really do incredible things."
Just a girl with a soccer ball and a dream has brought unity... and hope to a community
"I love seeing everybody so united and happy. I feel like there is more hope now."
To learn more about El Triunfo Spirit click here