The History of LYSA TOPSoccer
TOPSoccer was created in 1991 as part of the US Youth Soccer Association, the nation’s largest youth sports organization. TOPS, The Outreach Program for Soccer, 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 TOPSoccer. 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 sessions 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, a fall tournament, and end of the season events, and trophies or medals.
The LYSA TOPSoccer program has been in existence since fall 2009 offering play in both a spring and fall season. The league director, Dr. Jessie Birdwhistell, completed her Ph.D. in School Psychology at the University of Kentucky’s College of Education in spring 2015. A copy of the brochure is available here: http://lysa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/TOPS-Soccer-Brochure.pdf
What is TOPS Mission?
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. We provide athletes with the opportunity for physical exercise and team membership. Our 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.
TOPSoccer 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 through LYSA TOPSoccer. And most of all, soccer is fun and great exercise!! USYSA has produced an informative brochure on TOPSoccer. To view or print from the USYSA TOPSoccer Online Resource Center go to: www.usyouthsoccer.org
The TOPSoccer program can work as a feeder program: recruiting, assessing, and training new soccer players who would benefit from opportunities sponsored by sports organizations like Special Olympics and Miracle League Baseball.
What is unique about LYSA TOPSoccer?
We hold other activities during the season for our teams including bowling parties, occasional outings to UK and Transylvania University soccer games, pizza parties and an end of the fall season event. In the spring, we try to involve area college soccer teams (schedule permitting) in our program. Those soccer teams include the UK Men’s and Women’s; Transylvania Men’s and Women’s and the Georgetown Women’s, Asbury College Women’s, and the Centre College Women’s team.
We provide our participants with soccer shirts, socks, and shorts. Each season we provide team and individual photos and a medal or trophy. Snack and juice is offered at the end of each practice. The registration fee is $25 which also covers the KYSA player insurance.
Our program relies heavily on donations to support our activities and to provide equipment and uniforms. TOPS is an all-volunteer organization.
What is a Buddy?
Whenever possible and appropriate, given the resources, characteristics and limitations of given circumstances, TOPSoccer will do its best to provide a Buddy to each athlete who needs one. We cannot guarantee Buddy placement. A Buddy is an invaluable volunteer. A Buddy is not a player and does not score goals. A Buddy can be a caregiver, an aide, a family member, same-aged peer. a teenager, or an adult. They can be a soccer player, someone who works with special needs children or someone with no experience at all. We do allow family members, caregivers and aides to serve as buddies. 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. You can register to be a Buddy online or through the mail. Want to learn more about being a Buddy? Contact Janice Birdwhistell at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is eligible to play in the LYSA TOPSoccer league?
Individuals with disabilities aged 4+. Disabilities might include but are not limited to:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Vision or hearing impaired
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
How much does it cost?
The registration fee is $25.00. The fee covers all KYSA and LYSA registration fees and insurance. We provide all players each season with a team shirt and one pair of socks. Shorts are provided if needed. Scholarships to play are available. Payment can be made online using the registration page. For paper registration, your check should be made payable to LYSA and sent to the address on the registration form. LYSA does not accept cash payments. For additional information contact the LYSA Registrar Lois Stephens at 859 361-5719 or email@example.com or the TOPS League Director Jessie Birdwhistell at 859 608-4160.
What equipment is needed?
Players must provide their own shin guards and cleats (outdoor only). If you need financial assistance for shin guards or cleats, please let us know. For most practices players should wear blue soccer shorts, their league t-shirt and blue soccer socks. TOPS provides player shirts and soccer socks. Players can wear tennis shoes in the spring. Goalie shirts, goalie gloves, and practice balls are provided. Players do not need cleats for the spring indoor sessions. In the fall, all sessions are outdoors.
When does LYSA TOPSoccer practice? Practice is held once a week on Sunday afternoons for one hour.
Where will LYSA TOPSoccer practice? During the Spring we use indoor fields and will practice and play at Kentucky Indoor Soccer and Sport in Lexington. In the fall we use Field #3 (nearest the concession stand) at Masterson Station Park. Click on Park name for directions.
How are LYSA TOPSoccer teams chosen? Teams are divided based on age and ability.
Where can I get additional information? To be a Volunteer Coach or if you have questions about sponsorship or donations, contact Jessie Birdwhistell at 859-608-4160. To be a Buddy contact Janice Birdwhistell at 859 229-7670 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have difficulty registering to play contact Lois Stephens, Registrar at 859 361-5719 or email@example.com