LA Galaxy Humanitarian of the Year: Gyasi Zardes
By Luis Vazquez, Vice President, North America Marketing, Herbalife
November 03, 2016
Congratulations to Gyasi Zardes, the star LA Galaxy forward who is sponsored by Herbalife Nutrition, for being named the LA Galaxy Foundation’s Humanitarian Award winner for his commitment to community and volunteerism. In 2016, Zardes has spent countless hours giving back to the local community and supporting the LA Galaxy Foundation.
As part of Foundation Fridays with the LA Galaxy Foundation, Zardes helped unveil dedicated soccer fields at Hawthorne Memorial Park, just blocks away from where the Galaxy striker grew up. The Hawthorne native has continued to visit the first public soccer fields in the community regularly to support multiple soccer clinics. “It’s just great to utilize those fields and help in the community, give back, and help this generation of young kids who aspire to be something.”
Additionally, Zardes partnered with the LA Galaxy and Herbalife to launch “Scoring for Scholarships” to benefit college-bound students of South Los Angeles through A Place Called Home, one of the Herbalife Family Foundation Casa Herbalife programs. Zardes scored enough goals this year to provide $25,000 in laptops, bags and other items for kids heading to college.
In a recent interview with Dana Ryan, Ph.D., Senior Manager, Sports Performance and Education, Herbalife, Zardes spoke about what an honor it is to help his community.
“It’s an honor to win the award because it’s based on various volunteer activities I’ve done in the community,” he said. “The LA Galaxy Foundation pulled me in and really helped me serve Hawthorne.”
Even though an injury has put an end to his 2016 season, Zardes received the award in front of fans at StubHub Center in a presentation before the team’s final home game of the regular season on Sunday, Oct. 23.
What does he enjoy about volunteering? Helping kids who are a lot like him.
“I’m able to work with kids who are growing up in the same environment that I grew up in. I teach kids how to play soccer, but more importantly, I think it’s life development skills, leadership skills and character development skills that you can pick up when playing a team sport.”
While children in Hawthorne may look up to the LA Galaxy star and U.S. Men’s National Team player, Zardes pays attention to the habits of great soccer players around the world. “I love Cristiano Ronaldo’s work ethic,” said Zardes of the Real Madrid forward sponsored by Herbalife Nutrition. “You can see all of the hard work he puts into it.”
And Zardes also said he learns from MLS greats Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. “They’re always talking and communicating on the field. They play at the highest level and you have to be open to the feedback and criticism to become the best.”
Following foot surgery in September, Zardes said he is making progress on his recovery and supporting his teammates by being positive and staying involved. “My teammates picked me up after surgery and now I’m doing that for them,” he said.
When he became a professional soccer player, he started to realize that nutrition is vital to consistent performance. “I had to change my college diet to a professional diet by focusing on monitoring calories, limiting sugar and getting more protein and the right carbs. You need to treat your body like a high performance car.” His favorite products are Herbalife24® Hydrate and chocolate-flavored Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength, a supplement he often takes after workouts.
To prepare for his career after soccer, Zardes is graduating from Cal State Dominguez Hills next spring with a bachelor’s degree and he plans to get his MBA. “It’s all about continuing to improve myself and hopefully opening doors for new opportunities.”