Today we’d like to introduce you to Maribelia Avalos.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born and raised in Michoacan, Mexico, with the values and teachings that an extraordinarily hard-working and honest family gives you. At the age of 14, we moved from Michoacan to Colorado. Despite how difficult it is to adapt to a new country and a different education system; I did my best to keep good grades and learn English as quickly as possible. One of the things that caught my attention the most about my new school, Alamosa High School, was the accessibility for girls to practice all kinds of sports because, in Mexico, most girls did not have such opportunities. With that in mind, I played as many sports as possible and maintained outstanding grades with a focus on earning a scholarship for college. Indeed, I gained a full-ride scholarship to Adams State University through soccer and academics. I opted to make the most of my scholarship, so I finished with a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in 2008 and numerous specialties.
I graduated college knowing that I wanted other young kids in my community to have access to scholarships and other programs. Since sports have such a high cost in this country, I knew I had to figure out a way to make it happen for other children like myself at an affordable price. Therefore, with only a laptop and a vision for a brighter future for Latino youth throughout Colorado, I started the nonprofit organization right after college to give kids with fewer resources sports experiences that were even better than mine. I moved to Denver, looking to help a larger community. I started by doing partnership work with established nonprofit organizations like the American Diabetes Association, Metro State, Denver Public Schools, LiveWell Colorado, Clinica Tepeyac, and Aurora Community Connections, among many others. From doing this work, I quickly realized there was a lack of resources for our community, and we needed a place where they could feel at home. This is how I founded the Soccer Club, Community Athletic Soccer Academy (CASA FC), and MASFIT gym. Creating a community to help young athletes and their families was my main goal with CASA FC. We are open and welcome anyone. However, I deal mainly with the Latino community, which has a more significant need for services like ours, always keeping in mind the value of the family component, the work ethic, and teamwork that I learned from my parents.
It was sad to see how young people with so much ability and skill wasted their potential due to a lack of access to opportunities and resources. These young people have developed to their full potential at CASA FC and prepare for an opportunity-filled future. MASFIT GYM, on the other hand, places a strong emphasis on wellness and the prevention of illnesses like diabetes and high cholesterol, which frequently go undiagnosed until it is too late. In our gym, we work on a holistic program that focuses on physical health in an inclusive environment and without the pressures that larger gyms can generate. At MASFIT, we aim to teach exercise with good form to prevent major injuries.
Currently, I’m working hard to improve services and broaden the reach of both organizations in Denver. I am proud and excited about the work that I do every day. I have the joy of serving a community I love and work daily on my greatest passions: sports, health, and community.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Roads less traveled are often challenging. I knew I was working against all odds, but if you want to succeed in life you have to dare to be different and work very hard. The world of sports is gratifying, but if you are a woman, you will be fighting against a male-dominant world, so you don’t only have to work extra hard, but you will most likely get pushback from your community. However, knowledge is power. Anticipating these obstacles will give you the strength and the strategy to overcome naysayers and disbelievers. So many times, I heard: “You are too young,” “Just work for another club and get paid,” and “why create a club from zero? Way too much work!”
There were numerous moments when I wanted to give up because of the many significant challenges. But I stayed focused on my goal and held onto the hope that my perseverance and hard work would eventually pay off. I was also determined to surround myself with positive and loving people that care about our youth. I started a nonprofit from scratch, but only with the assistance and dedication of many people who believed in making a difference. Almost 15 years later, I continue to learn every day at CASA FC. My dream of a competitive soccer club for boys and girls was not the primary goal. It has always been to keep kids in school and prepare them for higher education through sports, which is an ongoing goal. I am proud to work on this dream daily and say we are helping kids become great leaders.
MASFIT gym is a small business that almost died due to COVID. We opened the gym in mid-2019, right before COVID hit. When we started to get our feet wet, we had to close for a whole year—a solid reason to give up and close. But I believed that I could make it work. I just needed a real chance to make it work. So, I stayed with it. Now, we are open for business and welcoming new clients from all walks of life.
As you know, we’re big fans of MASFIT Gym & CASA FC. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Community Athletic Soccer Academy (CASA) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization in Denver, Colorado. We are the state’s only female Latino-founded and lead organization offering authentic, inclusive, and value-driven athletic experiences for youth ages 4 to 18. Our goal is to reinforce our players’ academic pursuits and to equip them with the life skills needed to improve their chances of attending college. Our coaches, team managers, partners, and sponsors join us in the belief that Investing in youths’ personal development will inspire skillful and compassionate future leaders of our communities.
CASA FC centers players’ individual needs and prioritizes their athletic development in a welcoming and inclusive environment they can call home. We provide access to top-quality competitive and recreational leagues and tournaments for beginners to elite athletes. We are well-known throughout the state and region for our teams’ competitive drive — and our wins.
CASA’s mission is centered on:
· Providing youth with an improved quality of life via a safe environment they can call “HOME”.
· Investing in youths’ personal development in order to inspire skillful and compassionate future leaders of our communities.
· Equipping youth with leadership and academic development opportunities and inspiring their pursuit of advanced education.
· Strengthening family connections by integrating components into our programs that bridge parental involvement with youth activities.
MASFIT is an independent lifestyle, fitness, and well-being facility in the heart of The Highlands neighborhood in Northwest Denver. With instructors that specialized in personal fitness and group fitness with more than 20 years in the industry. All of our trainers are certified, which means they’ve been trained in anatomy, physiology, and nutrition. They understand that no two bodies are alike and will work with you to get fit at the right pace. We want to bring this experience to clients, and help change their fitness journeys in the simplest and most realistic way possible. Our philosophy is that everyone deserves the right to feel good, healthy, and happy with themselves inside and out. When you come to our workouts, you’ll learn to utilize techniques that have value both in and outside the gym. That’s because we strongly believe in equipping clients with the capacity and know-how to become independent gym goers and seek a life of fitness for themselves.
MASFIT is built on community, hard work, and tons of ganas. It’s where you get to put yourself first; ALWAYS, and find the motivation, strength, and determination to feed your soul. Join us in feeling stronger, better, healthier, and wiser. Your journey to revisit YOU begins at MASFIT. Open seven days a week, with each client having their own key to come in anytime between 5 am and 10 pm. No excuses. Visit us at 4640 Pecos Street – Unit G Denver CO, 80211
I believe in empowering youth to fulfill their most significant potential and become successful leaders. At CASA FC, we are proud of our core values and for leading by example. I had to learn everything about running a nonprofit and fill many roles: coach, director, manager, volunteer, driver, mentor, field coordinator, scheduler, photographer, and cleaner. It’s very important to not only know every role in the organization but also know every player, their story, the strengths and opportunities each coach and team manager brings, and the challenges parents must overcome to ensure their child gets the best opportunities in life.
CASA FC reflects our whole community and I am most proud of our kids. They made this club a very competitive club in the state and country, and CASA FC players are often recruited to play at the highest level for their age group, like MLS Next. Even more gratifying is when those players get their college education and become success stories, like Jesus Granillo and Rodrigo Garcia, graduating from Duke University with full-ride scholarships. Alan Leal played for CASA FC for many years, went to college, and is now one of our coaches. One of our very first females, Jarilex Cuellar, graduated this year with a full-ride scholarship through soccer and education. Jarilex wants to come back and help at CASA FC because of the difference the club made for her.
On the other hand, as the Business Owner and Professional Fitness Instructor at MASFIT gym, we focus on improving the overall health of our members. If you haven’t focused on your health yet, this is your year. I’m proud of all of our clients reaching their goals, and for those that are not there yet, be patient with yourself; good things take time. Remember, you are your health’s greatest architect.
Above all, centering quality over quantity and affordability sets us apart.
What was your favorite childhood memory?
I have two:
1. Riding horses at my grandparent’s ranch. Horses are my favorite animal.
2. Playing with my brothers. I was the only girl growing up with three boys for a while, so I learned to be tough. Then, when my two baby sisters came, I became a loving but stronger older sister.
- Gym Access /All Equipment $50 per month
- Strength & Conditioning Classes for Young $100 per month
- Unlimited Classes and Gym Access at any time for $150 per month
- Personal Fitness Training (1:1) $65 per session
- Buddy Training Personal Sessions $80 per session
- CASA FC Links:
- https://casafc.us (website)
- https://www.instagram.com/casa_fc/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y%3D (Instagram)
- https://www.facebook.com/coloradosocceracademy (Facebook)
- MASFIT gym links:
- https://masfit.us (website)
- https://instagram.com/masfit.us?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= (Instagram)
- https://www.facebook.com/masfit.us (Facebook)
- https://www.yelp.com/biz/masfit-denver (Yelp)
- Maribelia Avalos Shisslak Social Media
Flor Blake, David Bocardo, and Tony Contreras