About us: LYSA TOPSoccer

The mission of the LYSA TOPSoccer program is to provide a safe and caring coaching environment for children and young adults with special needs 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. TOPSoccer takes athletes off the sidelines and into the game! 

LYSA TOPSoccer is part of a national soccer program created by US Youth Soccer in 1991. TOPS, The Outreach Program for Soccer, was created to train young players with disabilities in a caring coaching environment. Any person age 4 and older with 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.  Buddies are provided for individuals who need one-on-one assistance or guidance. 

TOPS provides a place where participants can be a part of a real sports team, complete with practices, games, uniforms, a fall tournament, and end of season events and trophies/medals.

The history of LYSA TOPSoccer

The LYSA TOPSoccer program has been in existence since fall 2009 offering play in both a spring and fall season. The 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 our brochure is available here: TOPSoccer Brochure

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! USYSA has produced an informative brochure on TOPSoccer. To view or print the brochure go to: Parent Guide. 

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 of Miracle League Baseball. 


What is unique about our LYSA TOPSoccer?

We hold other activities during the season including bowling parties, 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.

 We provide team shirts, socks and soccer shorts to all new participants. 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 covers 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. If you would like to make a tax deductible gift to our program go to our Paypal site here: Donate to TOPSoccer.

How can I volunteer with LYSA TOPSoccer?

We are always looking for enthusiastic individuals who can make a difference in the lives of our athletes. We need coaches, assistant coaches, and volunteer Buddies who can attend practices and games to help each player reach their fullest ability. We also need talented individuals to serve in administrative positions. We need people to order uniforms, set up fields, solicit donations, and other activities. Let us know if you can help by contributing your talents and time to TOPS. We also can use help on a limited basis, for example, a soccer team, coach, or company that would like to help at one of our practices. We welcome your involvement. Interested in helping contact Jessie Birdwhistell at 859-608-4160 or Janice Birdwhistell at 859-229-7670 or on line at: Volunteer On-Line Registration

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. 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. 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. Want to learn more about being a Buddy?  Contact Janice Birdwhistell at jeb147@aol.com

You can register as a Buddy at:  Volunteer On-Line Registration

Who is eligible to play in our 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

What equipment is needed?

Players must provide their own shin guards and cleats (for outdoor session in fall). If you need financial assistance for shin guards, a ball or cleats, please let us know. For most practices players should wear black soccer shorts with 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, goalie gloves, and practice balls are provided.

How much does it cost?

The registration is $25.00. The fee covers all KYSA and LYSA registration fees and insurance. We provide each player 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 TOPSoccer and sent to the address on the registration form. We do not accept cash payments.

For additional information contact the LYSA Registrar Lois Stephens at 859-361-5719 or registrar@lysa.org or the TOPS League Director Jessie Birdwhistell at 859-608-4160.

How do I register for LYSA TOPSoccer?

Go to:  https://secure.sportsaffinity.com/reg/index.asp?sessionguid=&domain=ky-topsoccer%2Esportsaffinity%2Ecom

All new players must provide a copy of their birth certificate when registering.

When does LYSA TOPSoccer practice?

Practice is held once a week on Sunday afternoons for one hour.

Our locations

During the spring we use indoor fields at Kentucky Indoor Soccer and Sport, 404 Sporting Court 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 TOPS League Director Jessie Birdwhistell at 859-608-4160. To volunteer as a Buddy contact  Janice Birdwhistell at 859-229-7670 or jeb147@aol.com. 

If you have problems registering, contact LYSA Registrar Lois Stephens at 859-361-5719 or registrar@lysa.org

TOPS box 1 photo