Zensay Carlos Hill, "Luz Divina", founder, director, coach and instructor. Zensay obtained a B.A. in Spanish Literature from Dartmouth College and a M.S. in Educational Administration from SUNY Albany.
Zensay participated as a youth in a variety of sports including cricket, soccer, tennis, swimming and track. In adulthood, his passion for the physical arts translated to Martial Arts training. In 1974 he began study in Shotokan and Goju Ryu Karate under Sensei Victor Collier (8th Degree) in Albany, New York, completing the requirements for first degree Black Belt. When Zensay moved to Berkeley he began study at the Aikido Insitute in Oakland, training to the Shodan level, or first degree Black Belt. By 1980, he was immersed in Capoeira studies under Bira "Mestre Acordeon" Almeida, founder of the United Capoeira Association and was promoted as one of Mestre Acordeon's first American graduates. He also undertook extensive study of Kajukenbo, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu, under his current mentor, Bill Owens of the Cascos Academy of Martial Arts, Oakland. In 2004, he earned a third degree Black Belt with Sifu Owens. Carlos Zensay Hill has coached teams and privately for many local clubs such as: Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club, Bay Oaks Soccer Club, and the Mavericks. He holds a National Soccer Coaches Association of America "A" level license.
Zensay says he is honored to pass on his knowledge to Playing Life Academy students, to watch them connect with the material, learn and transform through their experiences, becoming more healthy, confident and vibrant. [schedule]
Caroline Duke, founder, director, Footfire Soccer Camp's chef and art director. Caroline holds a B.A., Mills College and M.A., UC Berkeley, in Asian Art History. In connection with her research on Indian Art, Caroline has traveled extensively in South and South East Asia. For over two decades she studied acting, as well as a variety of movement arts, including Capoeira, Jazz Dance, and Yoga. Her varied experience encompasses a 10-year restaurant career. The source of her Playing Life perspective, however, began with her parents. "Green" when it was only a color, Caroline's mother was gardening, baking, canning, sewing and stretching a dollar stretch only a child of the Depression could. Her father was a musician and singer in traditional Hawaiian and Jazz styles who began his long entertainment career in childhood, standing atop a fruit crate, soliciting donations. From their example she learned that creativity isn't an option, but the essence of life. She is happiest when she sees Playing Life Academy students exploring their creative spirits.
Nigel Hill, program consultant, Footfire Soccer field and equipment coordinator. Nigel, a native Trinidadian, is a consummate outdoorsman. Among his passions are scuba diving, fishing and gardening. He brings a full tool kit of soccer experience as player, youth coach and referee to Footfire Soccer. Nigel is the creator of the Footfire Soccer Tennis Net, a source of endless camp fun. He officiated the first Footfire Soccer Tennis Chamionship. Footfire Summer Soccer Camp thrives as a result of Nigel's tireless contributions.
Both Nigel and Zensay trace their enthusiasm for the physical arts to their parents, especially their mother, a fearless field hockey player and Junior Wimbledon Tennis Competitor in England who served the Government of the Rep. of Trinidad and Tobago as its Director of Physical Education.
The Playing Life Academy commmunity includes the following instructors:
Professor Xangô, Capoeira Instructor. Capoeira became a driving force in Professor Xangô's life after taking a capoeira class at a Detroit area YMCA in the mid-nineties. Xangô decided to make California his home and capoeira his life's work after participating in capoeira performances in San Francisco. He trained for several more years under a graduated student of Mestre Suassuna. He began his teaching responsibilities at several elementary and junior high schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Today Professor Xangô shares his expertise at the California College of Art and PLA. [schedule]