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What is TOPSoccer?


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The History of TOPSoccer

US Youth Soccer, the nation’s largest youth sports organization, started TOPSoccer in 1991 to provide young players with disabilities an environment filled with meaningful learning, developmental and physical participation opportunities through the game of soccer. Even with a strong history of providing disabled children the opportunity to participate in sporting events, the Special Olympic Organization felt that US Soccer could promote TOPSoccer in a more adequate fashion

What is TOPSoccer?

TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based soccer program designed to meet the needs of athletes with physical, developmental, and/or intellectual disabilities. Player participation and development are key elements of the program. TOPSoccer is designed to improve the overall fitness, self-esteem and social skills of your athlete. In short, TOPSoccer takes individuals from the sidelines to participating in the game.

The LYSA TOPSoccer program has been in existence for seven years. The LYSA TOPSoccer director is Jessie Birdwhistell. Birdwhistell completed her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Kentucky College of Education in spring 2015.

All TOPSoccer coaches, buddies and administrators are volunteers. Our program began in August, 2009 and is supported by the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association, Lexington Youth Soccer Association, US Youth Soccer Association, Children's Charity Fund of the Bluegrass, The Jerome S. and Grace H. Murray Foundation, Rod Hatfield Chevrolet as well as numerous other businesses and individuals in our community. We could not exist without our the support and generosity of our sponsors and many community friends. Our league has both a fall and spring season and practices on Sundays. Our team name is Blue Thunder.

Why play LYSA TOPSoccer?

There are many athletes in our area with 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 the brochure go to: Parent Guide

What is unique about LYSA TOPSoccer?

Whenver 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.  We do allow family members, caregivers and aides to serve as buddies.  It is the goal of TOPSoccer to provide the opportunity for participation for each athlete while ensuring the safety of all athletes, volunteers, parents and spectators. 

We  hold other activities during the season for our teams including bowling parties, outings to UK and Transylvania University soccer games, pizza parties and an end of the Fall season events. This past spring, several college teams participated including UK Mens and Womens; Transylvania Mens and Womens and the Georgetown Womens Team.   

What is a Buddy?

A Buddy is an invaluable volunteer. A Buddy is not a player and does not score goals. Buddies can be a caregiver, aide, 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 who has no soccer experience. You can register on-line or through the mail.  Want to learn more about being a Buddy?  Contact Janice Birdwhistell at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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
Down syndrome
Learning Disability 
Developmental Delay
Muscular Dystrophy 
Cerebral Palsy
Vision or hearing impaired 
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

How much does it cost?

Registration is $25.00. The fee covers all KYSA and LYSA registration fees and insurance. We will provide a player shirt and one pair of socks.  Scholarships are available.  For additional information contact the LYSA Registrar Lois Stephens at 859 361-5719 or the TOPS League Director Jessie Birdwhistell at 859 608-4160.

What equipment is needed?

Players must provide their own shin guards and cleats. If you need financial assistance for shin guards or cleats, please let us know. For most practices players should wear black soccer shorts or their league t-shirts and soccer socks. TOPS provides player shirts and soccer socks.

Players do not need cleats for the Spring indoor sessions. In the Fall, all sessions are outdoors.  Goalie shirts and gloves are provided.


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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it