PODCAST: S5:EP12 – Scott McLellan, Executive Director of Heart of the City

Join us for S5:EP12 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Scott McLellan, Executive Director of Heart of the City sits down with our host Roy Kessel to share how sport can be used as a vehicle to provide creative and accessible solutions to some of society’s biggest issues!

Scott serves as the Executive Director of Heart of the City. With nearly 20 years experience at Boys & Girls Clubs, Scott is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to succeed in life. He is a firm believer that children who participate in sports programs receive skills that benefit them throughout their lives. Scott was awarded a scholarship to play basketball at Olivet Nazarene University, where he graduated with a degree in Social Work. Because of this, he is deeply tied to Heart of the City’s mission to create opportunities for youth to attend college through the game of soccer.

While being very involved with sports growing up, Scott was frequently involved with his local Boys & Girls to which had led him down the path his now involved with today. Through determination, dedication, desire, and discipline, all core values of Heart of the City, Scott was able to attend Olivet Nazarene University as stated above. After school, he revisited his love of serving the community through the Boys & Girls Club once again and through that served communities in the Boston, Massachusetts area, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania which had led him to the Heart of the City organization in the Chicagoland area.

Founded by community members in 2014, Heart of the City was formed to address the lack of access to quality youth development soccer programs for families in Waukegan, IL and surrounding communities. The charitable organization coupled its existing recreation program with a competitive travel and college preparatory program in 2018.

In 2019, Heart of the City directors recognized a need to expand our college and career-readiness programming even further, due to low graduation rates and limited resources in our community, resulting in youth being significantly underprepared for life after high school.

​Recognizing that a four-year college experience is not for everyone, in 2020 we started diversifying our post-secondary readiness programming in order to expose youth to other viable post-secondary pathways, including trade schools and apprenticeships, the U.S. Armed Forces, and the ​U.S. Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. We are amplifying our social support referral services to connect youth and families to the resources they need, including mental health, crisis support, food, housing and more.

Heart of the City strives to level the playing field for over 600 youth in underserved communities in Lake County, Illinois. Using soccer as the vehicle, our programs are designed to provide a developmental pathway for youth to build social-emotional and leadership skills, access academic support, and earn stackable credentials for postsecondary education and employment success.

Scott McLellan joins our host Roy Kessel on S5:EP12 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast


  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:30 Scott’s Childhood
  • 01:40 Scott’s Sports Journey
  • 08:50 Love and Drive of Sports in Life
  • 12:35 Overview of Heart of the City
  • 20:20 Depths in the Programs of Heart of the City
  • 24:30 Impact that Schools Have on Children
  • 26:10 Kids in Sports
  • 29:00 Lessons Learned in Sports
  • 34:20 Today’s Landscape in Sports
  • 38:35 Closing


Mason Abernethy

Mason Abernethy

Sports Philanthropy Network

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