Players in bright blue jerseys dashed across the field as buddies, student volunteers, chased after them with the ball. TOPSoccer provides special needs children with opportunities to stay active, develop soccer skills, and build friendships. Coaches help run the program, while buddies assist with the players.
“TOPSoccer makes my week,” communications freshman Cameron Wilson said. “Everyone always has such a positive attitude on the field.”
The program occurs each Monday for about an hour and a half. Buddies wait for their players to arrive and then bring them to their designated fields to work on drills.
“The players are usually separated by age,” Coach Greg Cohen said. “The activities that they participate in are adapted to the specific age groups.”
On the far field, the older kids typically scrimmage as one of their activities, whereas on the smaller fields, players and their buddies pass and work on dribbling around cones. The connection developed between a player and their buddy is something students look forward to throughout the week.
“One of the reasons TOPSoccer is so special to me is because of the friendships and bonds I make with my player,” band sophomore Rebekah Whitlock said.
Buddies return for both the fall and spring seasons to volunteer with the same player. The six Dreyfoos students who volunteer are all returning buddies. After seasons of working together, the buddies and players get to know each other and build special bonds that reach beyond the soccer field.
“I’ve been working with Inaya, my player, for two years now,” Wilson said. “It’s the cutest thing when she runs up to me at the beginning of every practice.”
Love and support surrounds the players each week. Everybody on the field has a smile on their face, and everyone looks forward to playing throughout the short season. Whitlock describes training as “heartwarming.”
“Not only do the players love showing up for practice, but the coaches and the buddies also are excited,” Coach Cohen said. “I can only recommend as many people as possible get involved with this program. I do not want anyone missing out on this shared opportunity of a wonderful experience.”
For more information visit https://www.usyouthsoccer.org/programs/topsoccer/ and sign for the upcoming spring season to get involved with this program.