Finding continued success in all you do requires tireless perseverance and a sense of purpose. For Santa Maria, his success as a soccer player, coach, and musician has clearly been carved from his incredible work ethic, as well as deep family pride. Now retired from professional soccer, Santa Maria takes his respect and love of the sport to challenge and guide young players by day, while spending his nights taking partygoers on a musical journey. There is no rest for Santa Maria, but his purpose is clear: Work hard, be good, be honest, and never give up.
When Santa Maria immigrated to the United States at age seven, his future was largely unknown, but a single goal in the 1998 World Cup may have already given him a path. With a ball always at his feet, he wasn’t sure he’d have much of a career, as he was undersized in high school and only had the interest of one community college. Santa Maria didn’t give up, deciding to return to Mexico, training twice a day, and facing some of the best competition south of the border. After a growth spurt at the age of 18 and a year and a half in Mexico, he caught the eye of every university on the West Coast, ultimately deciding to attend Seattle University.
His college career saw him go on to captain an undefeated NCAA National Championship team in 2004, and concluded in 2006, when he signed a professional contract with the Seattle Sounders. Though his professional career ended 2 years later, he was able to wear the jersey, fulfilling a promise he made to himself back in 1998, allowing him to begin the next chapter.
“Coaching is the natural path for any person that truly loves and respects an endeavor, such as soccer,” Santa Maria says. “I was very fortunate to play for some of the best coaches in the Northwest, [so] it was only fair and just that I shared my knowledge of the game with the next generation of players. [I am] simply doing the right thing.” He currently coaches one of the top 3 U10 teams in Washington state, and continues to be an inspirational role model to young players, teaching them to be the best they can be, on and off the pitch.
At night, he chases a different dream, having seen his DJ career take off the past several years. Santa Maria points out, “There are three major components to Mexican culture – Family, Food and Music!” Growing up in a musical family made his transition to music as natural as his time spent on the soccer field. “It is the creative part of the process that is challenging, yet rewarding and fulfilling when you hit all the right tones and you connect with your audience. It is the constant search of that musical voyage that brought me here, and it is the continual connection with the audience that is keeping me on this imaginative and experimental adventure.”
Giving credit to his family, more specifically the ‘cornerstone,’ his mother, Santa Maria has been able to relentlessly follow his passion, tackling any adversity that comes his way. All this time he has stayed true to himself, his family, and all those that he encounters. Whether it’s a reminder to himself, or wisdom passed along to younger players, Santa Maria applies a quote he was told long ago, that has stayed with him: “You’ll never get in trouble if you get caught doing the right thing.”