SABR TOPSoccer Volunteers Honored

Volunteers are unpaid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!” – Author Unknown

The SABR Board of Directors set 3 goals for our TOPSoccer program when the club established the program:

  • Give challenged children in our community The Opportunity to Play Soccer.
  • Let the parents enjoy their children’s participation without any volunteer or financial obligations.
  • Provide a meaningful community service experience for middle school and high school students.

SABR TOPSoccer has consistently exceeded those expectations since its earliest years.

The bonds that have made this one of the most successful programs for challenged athletes in the U.S. are the love and devotion between our volunteers and the athletes and their families.

Over the years, hundreds of adults have guided our program, coached our teams, and mentored our thousands of teenage Buddies for seasons that impact everyone’s lives more than ever imagined at the outset.

Coaches and administrators stay involved for years. Buddies come back for many seasons once they start. Career paths in child development have been found and college choices have changed because of TOPSoccer.

Kerry Ryan – one of our earliest athletes – set the tone and left a legacy we share with our Buddies every season through the Kerry Ryan Award.

All of this is reward enough to our selfless volunteers. But their never-ending acts of kindness have been admired and honored around Florida and the United States by the U.S. Youth Soccer Association.

Here are the stories of a few of our most honored volunteers. To learn more about how you could volunteer, contact us at topsoccer@sabrsoccer.net.

2019 FYSA TOPSoccer BUDDY OF THE YEAR

Blake Houston

Blake began volunteering with the Soccer Association of Boca Raton's TOPSoccer program when he was in 8th grade at the request of his neighbor, Greg Turner who has coached for the program for many years. Blake's service as a buddy began on one of the teams that has older players, but it did not stop once play was completed.  Blake would always volunteer to help with special events such as orientations, uniform distributions, and he enthusiastically helped set up the fields and stayed late to make sure all equipment was safely stored away. If asked if he preferred to volunteer for an event that ran on Saturday and Sunday, Blake would ask if we needed his help on both days, not just one or the other.

Once he had been with the program long enough, Blake became a Buddy Captain who always led by example. Buddy Captains are given additional responsibilities including making sure that the other buddies keep engaged with the players as well as stepping up to coach if the registered coach is otherwise occupied.  Blake took on the responsibility of being the equipment manager and always could be seen doing the most difficult tasks on and off of the field.

During game time, Blake made sure that the players on his team not only learned how to play soccer but also made friendships and gained some independence. The players assigned to Blake's team have been challenging to manage, but he never gave up trying to make sure they had an enjoyable time with encouraging words and a positive attitude.

Blake's enthusiasm for TOPSoccer carried over to his additional responsibilities at school. He was editor of the school yearbook for two years and established a unique idea that should be policy for any school that publishes a yearbook. Instead of just featuring the students who are the 'best' at varying activities or the most popular in each class, he made sure that as many students as possible had photos throughout the book. Just as each TOPSoccer player wants to be a star on the field, the students at Blake's school also enjoy special recognition.

Lori Lesser IMG_5421

Lori Lesser received the FYSA/TOPSoccer Volunteer of the Year in 2018.

Lori Lesser has been a volunteer for the Soccer Association of Boca Raton’s TOPSoccer program for since 2005, serving as an administrator who has been willing to step into any task that has been requested of her. Lori not only assists with all of the organizational issues but has been instrumental in growing the program through introducing a professional trainer, Luis Gajardo, to the program as well as to other TOPSoccer organizations in our area.

Not only does Lori actively participate in the SABR organization during our season, but she is continually seeking athletes who would benefit from being active in a sport as well as being a recruiter for buddies and coaches. Lori's daughter, Sarni, has been a buddy and buddy captain for our program, and son, Matthew, has been one of the most outstanding players for his team. Matthew has grown and progressed thanks to his involvement with special needs athletics. Steve Lesser, Lori's husband, is the Junior Division Representative for our program and is an incredible leader, coach, and volunteer recruiter as well.

When she is not promoting TOPSoccer, Lori serves on the Board of Directors for the JCC and has been the Chairperson of the Special Needs Department. She also serves on the Unicorn Village Academy Board of Directors, organizing benefits for the school among other responsibilities.

There are many occasions when other administrators have not been able to accomplish tasks for our program due to time constraints. Lori willingly jumps in to make sure everything is completed for the program, and she does this with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. She is always thinking of others and how she can help make everyone's day go smoothly. TOPSoccer not only brings about friendships among the players and buddies, but it has brought a wonderful lady into our lives.

 

Zoe Unger

Zoe Unger was presented the U.S. Youth Soccer Volunteer of the Year Award for 2013 season at the national U.S. Youth Soccer Workshop in Indianapolis on January 18, 2013.

As a senior at Spanish River High School, Zoe was named the Polk County Marketing Volunteer of the Year at the Florida Youth Soccer Association's 2012 Annual General Meeting in Orlando.

Since she was 13 years old doing her mitzvah for her Bat Mitzvah, Zoe raised over $8,000 for the SABR TOPSoccer program by organizing 5 vs. 5 competitions each fall before the beginning of the season. Her enthusiasm for the program did not stop with the mitzvah. Zoe became a buddy in 2009. Her dedication, enthusiasm, and leadership led to her becoming a Buddy Captain in 2012.

Cindy Thuma and Brock Turner

Brock Turner received the Florida Youth Soccer and US Youth Soccer Association Buddy of the Year awards in 2014. Brock dedicated his award to Kerry Ryan, an original TOPSoccer player who inspired his commitment to the program. Brock started as a buddy assistant eight years ago to help his neighbor, Kerry. He served as a buddy, buddy captain and equipment manager by the time he graduated high school. Brock also inspired his father Greg to coach and his sister Lauren to volunteer as a buddy in the SABR TOPSoccer program.

(Also pictured: (l) Vic Nocera, TOPSoccer Director and (r) Greg Turner, Brock's father and TOPSoccer coach.)

Cassie and Suzi

In 2011, Florida Youth Soccer chose Cassandra Thorla (l) and Suzi Vogelgesang (r) as FYSA TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year 2011 and named FYSA TOPSoccer Adult Volunteer of the Year.

Cassie started volunteering as a Buddy for TOPSoccer in her 8th grade year. Cassie's dedication to the program and her love for the children led her to become a Buddy Captain in 2010 & 2011 seasons. Cassie earned over 150 community service hours over her 5 years volunteering for TOPSoccer.

Suzi joined SABR in 2000 as a coach, but found her passion in assisting with TOPSoccer when her children Stephanie and Trent were buddies beginning in the 2006 season. Suzi became the TOPSoccer Administrator and has served TOPSoccer on a local and statewide level to help other clubs launch their own program.