Uniroyal® Tire, US Youth Soccer Honor Exceptional Volunteers; Outstanding Teens Recognized for their Dedication to Kids with Disabilities.
GREENVILLE, SC (November 18, 2003) — Uniroyal® Tire and US Youth Soccer recently announced the recipients of the second annual Uniroyal Tire TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year award to five young athletes who dedicate their time volunteering to help children with disabilities get off the sidelines and into the game.
Uniroyal has been a big supporter of youth soccer over the past four years, donating more than $4.5 million in funds and equipment to leagues and US Youth Soccer. As the title sponsor of TOPSoccer, Uniroyal provides sponsorship dollars and donates specialized equipment to programs across the country. Additionally, Uniroyal has retained soccer star Julie Foudy to raise public awareness of TOPSoccer. Since Uniroyal signed on as title sponsor, the number of TOPSoccer programs across the nation has more than doubled to 213 and the number of programs continues to grow.
TOPSoccer is a community-based outreach program, developed, organized and administered by US Youth Soccer, the nation's largest sports organization. It provides the opportunity for any boy or girl with a mental or physical disability to play the game of soccer. Each program relies on youth volunteers known as "buddies" to assist with general ball handling skills and movement around the fields. In essence, "buddies" help these kids experience the joy and camaraderie that comes with being part of a team.
"These volunteers represent the best of team sportsmanship and are the true heroes in the eyes of the TOPSoccer athletes," said Tim Jamison, Uniroyal Brand Director. "Their dedication, commitment and desire to help their programs and athletes succeed are what make this national program so unique."
It is because of their hard work and constant dedication that Uniroyal rewards five volunteers for their service. The winners are as follows:
"I love this program's ability to embrace not only the athletes but also the people who make it all work," said Julie Foudy, captain of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team. "It's not often that you see kids taking time out of their busy schedules to make this kind of commitment."
Matthew Brady of Summerville, SC was named the National Buddy of the Year winner. Uniroyal is donating $2,500 to the Summerville Soccer Club in his name. Five years ago as a 12-year-old, Brady began volunteering with South Carolina Youth Soccer Association's Summerville Soccer Club with his sisters and mother. His dedication to the TOPSoccer program as well as other civic activities earned him a position to carry the Olympic Torch through Charleston during the 2002 Olympics.
"Matthew has gotten as much out of this program as he has put into it," said Craig Brady, Matthew's father. "This program has opened his eyes to what these players and their families face each day. Whether they are on the field or at home, they are consummate athletes and children."
The four regional winners will each receive a $1,500 donation to their local TOPSoccer program from Uniroyal in their name.
Tom Wargo, 17, started as a buddy and has developed into a coach for his North Hills TOPSoccer players. He has grown up with the members of the team and has earned enormous respect from each athlete.
Katharine (Katie) Kershaw, 18, developed a real talent for working with children with disabilities. Her experience teaching and playing with the athletes of Ohio North's TOPSoccer program has influenced her career choice and she is starting college to earn a degree in special education.
Brad Andringa, a 13-year-old who entered the eighth grade this fall, has dedicated his free time working with the Northeast Raider's TOPSoccer Program. His enthusiasm has been contagious in his community as he continues to recruit volunteers to share this amazing experience with him.
Juggling school studies, volunteering with several community programs and working a part-time job, Jamie Doran has become a role model within the Snohomish TOPSoccer Program. In addition to being an incredible mentor and friend among the athletes and volunteers, Doran has taken a leadership role attending planning meetings, developing teaching plans and recruiting donations for uniforms and equipment.
"Volunteers are key to the success of programs like TOPSoccer and we are thrilled to be honoring the young people dedicated to such a worthwhile cause," said David Messersmith, US Youth Soccer President. "With assistance from our sponsor, Uniroyal, we are now able to recognize these volunteer efforts in a meaningful way that will further advance the program for tomorrow's young athletes."
Nominated through US Youth Soccer administrators, coaches, volunteers or TOPSoccer participants, winners were chosen based on their commitment to the physical and emotional development of a TOPSoccer athlete or group of athletes, commitment to the overall program, and dedication to serving as a role model both to TOPSoccer athletes and other buddies in the program.
As a national sponsor of US Youth Soccer, and supporter of TOPSoccer since 2000, Uniroyal is committed to enriching the lives of children through the sport of soccer. Uniroyal Tire is one of the world's leading manufacturers of tires for passenger and commercial cars, pick-ups, light trucks, mini vans and sport utility vehicles. Dating back to 1892, Uniroyal Tire has developed a reputation for providing high-quality, affordable tires including its Tiger Paw® and Laredo® series. Uniroyal tires offer just the right combination of dependability, traction and grip in almost every weather condition, and come with one of the industry's leading warranties. Visit Uniroyal online at: www.uniroyal.com.
US Youth Soccer - The Game for ALL Kids! , is the largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3.1 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, in 55 member state associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game.
For more information on the Uniroyal Tire TOPSoccer program call 1-800-4-Soccer.