Today, at the United Soccer League’s annual Winter Summit, San Diego Loyal SC brought home three of six 2021 USL Impact Awards - “Impact Player”, “Community Engagement” and “Impact Club of the Year”. The new club recognition program, USL Impact Awards, highlights clubs across the league that are leading the way towards leveraging its platform to be a force for good.
Collin Martin, SD Loyal midfielder and winner of the 2021 USL Impact Player of the Year, was recognized and celebrated for his work in pursuing social justice and using his platform to create change and inclusiveness within the LGBTQ+ community. Martin is one of the only openly gay male players in the U.S and after being targeted with homophobic slur by his opponent in the final game of the 2020 season, Martin chose to use the incident as a teaching moment.
In 2021, Martin became a member of Common Goal, where he pledged a minimum of 1 percent of his salary to promote continued social change, and worked with the organization to host a restorative justice workshop. He was also featured in the USL’s "A Conversation On Sport and Inclusivity".
“It’s an honor to receive this award from the USL and it’s one I'd like to share with my teammates because they have welcomed me with open arms since I’ve joined SD Loyal,” said Martin. “They’ve allowed me to bring my complete self to work everyday and inspired me to continue to make soccer as inclusive as possible for the LGBTQ+ community. I look forward to continuing my work within the community and the league to make soccer a place for everyone.”
SD Loyal received the “Community Engagement” award which recognizes the club’s commitment to community outreach. In 2021 alone, SD Loyal rolled out the following initiatives to engage and excite the San Diego community while also giving back and making a difference well beyond the field:
Leal Sin Muros, or “Loyal Without Walls”, aims to create connections among SD Loyal players, front office, fans and partners to bring the Cali-Baja communities together and amplify and highlight the people, cultures, cuisine, destinations and economy through the beautiful game.
Mission Gratitude provides support and opportunities for a sense of community and camaraderie for active duty, veteran and retired military members and their families.
Heart of San Diego is a volunteer program geared towards fans as an opportunity to serve their community through various planned events.
Together San Diego embraces the community, cultural diversity and inclusion, most notably via the Loud & Proud partnership with San Diego Pride.
18/86 connects with San Diego’s 18 cities and 86 neighborhoods through a week of activities which includes practices at local fields, team lunches at local restaurants, volunteer efforts, community events and unique ways to highlight local small businesses.
Soccer Capital amplifies the love of the beautiful game in our community with a focus on youth participation and Loyal Select, SD Loyal’s youth academy.
Top outcomes from these initiatives include $50,000 raised for Rady Children's Hospital, $10,000 raised for Association of African American Educators, San Diego and $5,000 raised for Rob Machado Foundation. The club also hosted free soccer camps for San Diego Unified School District students in partnership with Chicano Federation, hosted a watch party for over 200 military and family members at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and donated 40+ soccer balls to migrant children sheltering at the Downtown Convention Center in March.
Additionally, San Diego Loyal was awarded “Impact Club of the Year” which celebrates clubs that have challenged the norm within the USL and the sport. This award was given to San Diego Loyal as it has the highest ratings across all categories reflecting league-wide excellence.
“Since the very beginning, serving our community has been our top priority,” said SD Loyal Chairman Andrew Vassiliadis. “Today’s awards reflect our commitment to the betterment of San Diego, whether it’s helping those in need, championing inclusivity or protecting our environment. We’re just getting started and I can’t wait to build on our community initiatives in 2022.”