When Dan Hastings first heard about TOPSoccer, he knew he wanted to start a program here in Auburn.  He succeeded.

Now entering its fourth year, United Soccer of Auburn’s TOPS program is open for spring 2014 registrations.

TOPSoccer is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. US Youth Soccer created the program to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability.  There are now TOPS  programs in all 50 states, including 7 Central Mass. communities.  Holden, Millbury, Worcester, Clinton, Blackstone, and West Boylston also run TOPS.

Auburn has averaged about 12 players each season, and nearly all come back every session.  According to Hastings, each player is paired up with a “soccer buddy”, a program volunteer who works with that player all season.  Most TOPS activities are performed one on one between the player and his or her buddy.

For this reason, volunteers are always welcome.  In past seasons, volunteers have consisted of United Soccer of Auburn coaches, high school players, boy scouts and even Hastings own children, both soccer players themselves. Anyone interested in helping should contact Dan.  No experience is necessary, and training is provided.

TOPS is open to any player with a physical or intellectual disability.  In Auburn, most of the players are on the autism spectrum.

The spring season is scheduled to begin on March 30 and end May 11.  The program meets Sundays at Pakachoag School from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Registration is currently open.  Visit www.unitedsoccerofauburn.com to register.  For more information contact TOPS coordinator Dan Hastings at (508) 721-9834 or cdhast@msn.com.