Students serve Danville youth through TOPSoccer


Photo Contributed

Galileo Students Kush Patel, Angelique Perkins, Mark Gibson, Kayla Gaites, Florencia Albornoz and Shorok Hemdan stand for a picture at the first TOPSoccer match of the season Sept. 16.

Autumn Turpin, Editor

Many students at Galileo Magnet High School are getting volunteering this semester by helping with US Youth TOPSoccer here in Danville.

According to the US Youth TOPSoccer Web site, The Outreach Program for Soccer is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities organized by youth soccer association volunteers.

The coaches of the program are Dianne and Mary Harr, a mother-daughter team. Dianne Harr is a Galileo graduate and Mary was the president of Galileo’s PTSA when her daughter attended.

“I decided to join TOPSoccer because when I go to college I want to major in teaching special needs children and this is good training for that,” Junior Angelique Perkins said.”I love working with them, it’s the highlight of my Saturday.”

Perkins, along with Mark Gibson, Matthew Garcia, Kush Patel, Shorok Hemdan, Florencia Albornoz, and Kayla Gaites are “buddies” in the TOPSoccer program.

“I love being around the children and helping, and I love that all of them are unique and different in their own way,” Gaites said. “The children choose their own buddy one at a time.  We do small things like kick the ball around and stretch then go off in seperate ways.”

Gaites is a sophomore and hopes to be able to join the Galileo soccer team in spring.

“The program was started with a ‘Getting to Know You Day’ on Sept. 9,” Special Education Teacher Vanessa Riddle said. “The participants play the 16, 23 and 30 of September and the 7 and 14 of October. The picnic and award ceremony will be on Oct. 21 and games will be held every Saturday 9-10 a.m.”

The price of entry for players is $15 and the ages range from 5-18.

“Our students benefit by learning about students with different abilities than them,” Riddle said. “The children who have our students as buddies benefit by having someone willing to help them and participate in a sport or activity they would not be able to enjoy without the students who volunteer.”