Patient. Understanding. Dependable.
Those are just some of the many qualities that US Youth Soccer looks for when selecting a National TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year. This year, they’ve honored 16-year old Jessica Lee for her work with the West Hempstead Soccer Club TOPSoccer program.
Lee was first selected by Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association before being named the US Youth Soccer East Region TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year. She has since earned national recognition, which came somewhat unexpectedly.
“I was surprised and excited when I received the email,” she said. “I am humbled to have been honored in this way.”
The Outreach Program for Soccer (TOPSoccer) provides a platform for children and young adults with physical or mental disabilities the opportunity to play the beautiful game. During TOPSoccer events, a buddy can be responsible for numerous roles, whether it be as a coach, a cheerleader, or a role model.
After her family started West Hempstead’s program, Lee has been involved with the program for nine years.
“I believe that all kids should have the same opportunities in life,” she told LIJSoccer.com. “TOPSoccer helps make that happen. Seeing the players every week and their faces full of excitement ready to play soccer never fails to put a smile on my face.”
Playing since she was three, Lee now plays with the Garden City Park Shooting Stars and on the varsity team at Kellenberg Memorial High School.
“It means everything to me,” Lee said about receiving the award. “Soccer has always been a big part of my life and I’m glad to share it with the TOPSoccer community.”
Lee will be recognized for her award at the 2020 US Youth Soccer Awards Gala in Baltimore, Md., on January 18 alongside the United Coaches Soccer Convention.