Members of the Kellenberg Memorial High School Varsity Soccer team recently visited a special needs soccer program in New Hyde Park on Oct. 19, practicing with the athletes of the TOP Soccer program as they have done for the past six seasons. The Kellenberg 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 (’14) 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.”
Senior Kevin Neligan (’14) added that “this is a very cool program, and I would love to help out again. 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.”
More than 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.
During the time with the TOP Soccer athletes, the varsity boys team split into two groups and practiced with the TOP soccer players to work on various drills, after which they played a few games. Varsity head coach Bill Masiulis and the Kellenberg Memorial 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, the head of the TOP Soccer program. “Their presence is great!”