Fishers resident Courtney Locke marvels at the patience Sean Addison displays while operating the soccer program for athletes with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities.
“It’s a crazy thing for him to take on,” Winslow said. “There are 40 kids and 40 volunteers all doing the same thing but differently.”
The Indy Premier Soccer Club program, TOPSoccer, uses travel players to serve as buddies. Addison said many of those players are from Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern high schools.
Locke’s 10-year-old son Jenson, who has autism, participates in the TOPSoccer camp at Indy Premier Soccer Club’s indoor facility at 9741 East 153rd St. in Noblesville. Indy Premier has facilities in Noblesville and Fishers.
“I work in the field and I recommend it to other families,” said Locke, who works for a nonprofit called Fuse, which helps families with children with disabilities.
Addison, a Plainfield resident, has been a coach with Indy Premier for six years.
The TOPSoccer program runs three times a year, with summer, late fall and winter sessions.
The program serves many children on the autism spectrum.
“We’ve had a whole wide array of disabilities, and a big demographic (is autism),” said Addison, who played soccer at Bethel University. “I guess that we have a lot of kids with autism because we fill a need that I think a lot of other programming specifically doesn’t hit. We’re all inclusive and we have kids who just have some emotional disabilities as well.”
Much of the program is about teaching the children, more than getting them prepared to play a game.
Addison said everyone is being taught at their own ability.
“I enjoy coaching and I enjoyed the different experiences and different challenges that come with it,” Addison said. “Honestly, this program is just more of the same. It’s getting to connect people. It’s getting to connect kids that I coach on a daily basis in our travel program with kids that they don’t typically get to interact with, so really, it’s a relationship-building thing. It’s exciting to see kids connect, and that’s the most fulfilling part of it.”
Addison said it’s special to be a part of, but it’s really just coaching kids.
“It’s just a different demographic than what we normally get to coach, so I think that makes it exceptional,” Addison said. “But at the end of the day, it’s teaching social interactions and teaching the game to kids, which is what I do on a daily basis with my job.”
The age range of players varies, Addison said.
“I don’t say no to anyone,” Addison said. “I’ve had athletes as young as 2 1/2 and as old as 20-something. It’s a big program, but it’s a really individualized thing for the needs of the individual. So regardless of what level you’re at or what age you’re at, when you come into one of my sessions, it’s really adaptable for whatever need you have in that time period.”
When the TOPSoccer program was launched six years ago, program director Sean Addison said 64 travel players signed up to be buddies and there were just two athletes. But the program keeps growing.
“This past session, we have roughly 70 buddies that are kind of in and out, most are consistent,” Addison said of the session that ended March 5.
There were 58 athletes participating.
“The buddies’ role is to facilitate the session for the athlete they are working with,” he said.
For more, indypremiersc.org.