The Kellenberg Boys Varsity Soccer team recently practiced with the athletes of the TOP Soccer program of New Hyde Park, as they have done for the past six seasons. The team sacrifices one of their scheduled Saturday practices during the season each year to spend their time with the special-needs soccer program.
TOP Soccer is a program that offers special-needs athletes an opportunity to learn the game and compete with others at their level. TOP Soccer has been giving these athletes a place to play for over 20 years and is sponsored by the New Hyde Park Wildcats soccer club and organized by the Bursig family of New Hyde Park.
“It was a great experience getting to play with the kids, and getting to know them over the last two years,” Kellenberg senior Daniel Montgomery said. “I had a lot of fun teaching them the basics of soccer. If I was given the opportunity, I would definitely do it again.”
Upwards of 60 athletes participate with TOP Soccer from ages as young as 5-years-old and up. Some players have been involved with the program since the very beginning and are still active participants.
Every Saturday morning at the Center Street School Field in New Hyde Park, these athletes meet together to exercise, learn sportsmanship, and play soccer in a game situation.
“This is a very cool program, and I would love to help out again,” Senior Kevin Neligan said of mentoring young athletes. “I was very surprised at the talent and skill that these kids had, especially since many have struggles. It makes me grateful to be a soccer player.”
The varsity boys team split into two groups and practiced with the TOP Soccer players, working on various drills, after which they played a few games. Varsity Head Coach Bill Masiulis and the Kellenberg coaching staff have been very supportive of the program, and look forward to returning every single year.
“I truly wish that Kellenberg could come down more than once a year,” said Mary Jo Bursig, head of the TOP Soccer program. “Their presence is great.”