SOL of the Cities
Mario & Sparkle Wimberly
Growing up in San Francisco, California, Sparkle witnessed the beauty of diversity, but also the stark contrast between those with access to wealth and opportunity, and those facing educational and socio-economic challenges. Sparkle was a high achiever and an advocate for social justice, participating in every supplemental program possible. She lived by the mantra "if it's broken, you go fix it" and began her multidisciplinary career as a Lifeskills Youth & Family Advocate, working with youth struggling with mental health challenges and family dynamics.
After becoming a mother, Sparkle saw a unique opportunity to contribute to her community. She volunteered for the recreational soccer program and eventually became the league commissioner. However, she soon realized that youth sports programs were often only available to those who could afford the fees. This led Sparkle and her partners to found TC Sol Futsal, a program with a mission to bridge the gap in competitive futsal by offering sliding scale fees, monthly cost-free community clinics, food stabilization initiatives, licensed coaching, and mentoring to maintain a competitive edge.
TC Sol and the Sol Squad are families who became part of Sparkle's family, connected by the desire for good coaching and good community. But the biggest call to date came with the global pandemic and the ground-zero social unrest of the summer of 2020. With petty crimes and vandalism on the rise and youth struggling with desperation and confusion, SOL OF THE CITIES Serve-to-Play was born. This innovative model instilled the belief that everyone has worth and value, and that our time and talents are social currency. As Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, "even if you are not ready for day, it cannot always be night," and Sparkle remains committed to bringing light and hope to her community.
Coach Mario's love for soccer began at the young age of 8 when he discovered the beautiful game through Minnesota Youth Soccer. Throughout his childhood, he spent most of his organized playing between local clubs, high school, and collegiate soccer. Despite financial challenges, his family always found a way to support his passion for the sport. However, in the pay-to-play model, Coach Mario often found himself as the only Black kid on his teams until he attended Howard University.
Although he was drawn closer to the game after learning about the greats like Pele, he struggled to see people who looked like him primarily due to access and exposure. Now, as a parent, he is expanding his coaching and development education to help provide more opportunities for young people in the game. In 2015, Coach Mario's dedication to development, accessibility, and diversity in soccer was recognized when he was selected as Youth Coach of the Year.
Seven years later, Coach Mario continues to work daily to create and leverage more opportunities for young people in the game. He co-founded SOL OF THE CITIES Futsal League to build on those same core values. Coach Mario is committed to making soccer accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or financial situation, and hopes to inspire the next generation of soccer players to fall in love with the beautiful game.
Board of Directors
Brooke Blakey is the director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety for the City of Saint Paul. Brooke has served in various positions from law enforcement overseeing operations, investigations, administration and community outreach and engagement, along with ushering forward the development of the Metro Transit Police Department’s Homeless Action Team (HAT) and Juvenile Diversion Program.
Brooke has also served in the Ramsey County Public Defender's Office and the Minnesota State Fair Police Department, holding an array of positions, including the Department’s Public Information Officer. Brooke has an Undergraduate degree in Child Psychology and Criminology from the University of Minnesota, a Post Bachelor's degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Master of Science in Forensic Science with an emphasis on Criminal Investigation from National University. She is also a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command #484 and has advanced certifications from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA), and Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (MN BCA). Brooke is a mother of 2 and a proud St. Paulite who in her free time she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Board of Directors
Marielle Sinicropi is dedicated to working with non-profits whose mission is to promote equal access to justice, academic achievement, and opportunities for underserved communities and youth. She has raised funds for various Twin Cities non-profits as a grant writer, including Jeremiah Program and St. Paul City School Charter. She was a volunteer tutor at Adult Literacy programs in Minneapolis, and after school programs in St. Paul. She currently is the Volunteer Program Coordinator at UPLIFT Legal Institute for Teens in Minneapolis.
Marielle grew up in New Brunswick, NJ and attended Rutgers University. She started her career as an attorney in New York City after graduating Fordham Law School and decided to try the midwestern life after the tragedy of 9/11 took down the building she worked in.
If she and her husband are not watching their sons play soccer, futsal or some other sport, they are probably working out at the gym, hiking, reading or enjoying quiet time at home.
Board of Directors
Idea generator, space & place maker, hospitality fanatic.
Dan owns and operates Dogwood Coffee Company with his wife Angie. Guided by their mission of “making coffee for others”, Dogwood has been sourcing, roasting and selling coffee via wholesale, online and their retail cafes within the Twin Cities since 2010. Together with Houston White, Dan also co-founded The Get Down Coffee Company - a sibling company to Dogwood whose mission is to bring cultural collision to specialty coffee.
Father of 3 soccer-hustling boys and 1 sofa-snoozing poodle. Regular at 9th Street Soccer. Hockey enthusiast. Loyal Boundary Waters explorer. Believer in economies of abundance. Lifelong hat collector. Type 2 Enneagram and type of person to see every glass half-full.
Board of Directors
Jared Brewington has an extensive food-service, business and philanthropic history. He is the founder of food brands Funky Grits (restaurant, Minnesota State Fair), Thigh Times Birdhouse, Cologne House Cafe, and Official Fried Chicken. In addition to years in the restaurant industry, Jared is a commercial property investor, community leader and youth mentor. Born and raised in South Minneapolis in a 4 generation home, Jared is a part of the rich legacy of African American entrepreneurs from South Minneapolis. His great-grandfather was one of the first black realtors in MN and his father is a serial entrepreneur and business leader. Jared has focused his support toward young adults in their efforts to find their place in the world of business ownership and entrepreneurship."
Want to learn more?
Want to get involved? Fantastic! We would love to talk to you. This is a great opportunity to make an impact on the youth in many underserved communities. Let’s celebrate our rich diversity together.
Building a community requires the efforts of many. We want to express our gratitude to the businesses, organizations, and individual donors who have made Sol Of The Cities programming possible. Your unwavering support has helped us create an amazing community that would not have been possible without you. Thank you for making a difference and contributing to the success of the youth of the Twin Cities.