Atlanta United FC

Former Atlanta United defender starts mentorship program for youth athletes

Atlanta United defender Greg Garza, left, defends against New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot, right, during the first half in a MLS soccer match Sunday, May 20, 2018, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

ATLANTA — Greg Garza has dedicated his life to soccer and won a MLS Cup with Atlanta United in 2018. After a career in the MLS, Garza retired this summer.

After a few months away from the pitch, the defender decided he wanted to pursue his other passion. And that’s helping mentor young athletes.

Channel 2′s Alison Mastrangelo caught up with Garza to talk about Beyond Goals Mentoring and what he hopes to accomplish with this program.

“It’s based on paying it forward and also giving back to a game that also gave back so much to us,” Garza said. “Our why behind it is all about helping kids flourish and become the best players they can be on and off the field.”

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Garza is working with his former teammate and Atlanta United captain Michael Parkhurst.

They started this program just a few months ago and already have more than 25 players that they are virtually mentoring all over the country.

“Really making a structure base program for them to be successful. It’s kids dealing with the mental aspects the pressure on the kids, whether it’s the recruitment process, speaking to agents. 13-14 years old or even just navigating the youth sports,” Garza said.

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Garza says the packages available usually include four sessions that can last about an hour.

He says to think of it like a big brother mentorship program. Garza and Parkhurst are helping guide the young athletes to become successful on and off the pitch.

“Even right now it’s so gratifying seeing these kids gain that mental toughness and confidence you know that they deserve and maybe they just don’t have,” Garza said. “Whether it’s getting a text from a dad hey my son just played an awesome game in the next game speaking to you. I think right there for us puts a smile on our faces and makes us proud of what we do.”

Anyone who is interested in the mentorship programs can visit the website here.