What is the history of TOPSoccer and the LYSA TOPSoccer Program?
TOPSoccer (TOPS - The Outreach Program for Soccer) was created in 1991 by the US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA), the nation’s largest youth sports organization. TOPS was developed to train young players with disabilities in a caring coaching environment. Athletes ages 4 and older with developmental, cognitive, or physical disabilities, no matter how severe, can play TOPS. Players may participate regardless of their understanding of the game and with or without the need for physical assistance or apparatus. Team placement is by ability, size, and age to ensure the safety and success of each child at whatever level they are able to participate. Soccer practice and games are modified as needed to meet the needs of each player. Whenever possible, Buddies are provided for individuals who need one-to-one assistance or guidance. TOPS provides a place where participants can be part of a real sports team, complete with practices, games, uniforms, and trophies or medals.
The LYSA TOPSoccer program was founded by Dr. Jessie Birdwhistell in 2009. The new director, Dr. Lynda Ison, a former LYSA TOPSoccer coach, is bringing the program back in 2022 after the program was put on pause due to Covid-19.
What is the mission of the LYSA TOPSoccer program?
The mission of the LYSA TOPSoccer program is to provide a safe and caring coaching environment for children and young adults where they can experience the joys of sport through the game of soccer as well as to provide athletes with the opportunity for physical exercise and team membership. Our primary goal is to help improve overall fitness, self-esteem, and social skills. TOPSoccer offers a level-playing field, where every player gets the chance to play soccer and experience the thrill of scoring their first goal or making their first save. It takes athletes off the sidelines and into the game!
Why play LYSA TOPSoccer?
There are many athletes in our area with cognitive or physical disabilities who need and should be provided with the opportunity to play soccer. And most of all, soccer is fun and great exercise!
What is unique about LYSA TOPSoccer?
Our program relies heavily on donations to support our activities and to provide scholarships (fee waivers & player equipment) and league equipment. TOPS is an all-volunteer organization.
What is a TOPSoccer Buddy?
A TOPSoccer buddy is an invaluable volunteer, assigned to help facilitate the play of an athlete or athletes. A buddy is typically paired with one athlete. They are there to promote the play of the athlete rather than play themselves. We cannot guarantee a TOPSoccer buddy for each athlete, but we make every effort to assign a buddy to athletes who need or request a buddy. It is the goal of our program to provide the opportunity for participation for each athlete while ensuring the safety of all athletes, volunteers, parents, and spectators.
A TOPSoccer buddy can be a caregiver, an aide, a family member, a family friend, a same-aged peer. a teenager, or an adult. They may be someone who plays or coaches soccer, someone who works with persons with special needs, or someone without any experience at all. Buddies must be at least 12 years of age to participate. Note: All volunteers must register as a volunteer through the online LYSA registration system AND complete a background check & SafeSport training if they are 18 years of age or older on the last session date of the program. Members of an athlete’s household can register with the same account used to register the athlete.