In addition to playing on the Tuckahoe Middle School team and completing coursework for the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, Richmond Kickers U13 Elite player, Ben Hazelton, dedicates more than 20 hours of community service a year as a TOPSoccer Buddy.
Between his Kickers team and middle school team, Ben plays in multiple games and practices a week (a mother's scheduling nightmare!); however, the highlight of every week is TOPSoccer, when he has the opportunity to mentor special needs athletes. Since starting with TOPSoccer last year, the seventh grader has recruited many of his IB classmates and soccer teammates to also become TOPSoccer Buddies, sharing his love of soccer and making a difference in the community under the guidance of volunteer director, Leon Brownlee.
Participating in TOPsoccer has also helped Ben grieve the loss of his number one fan - his 15-year old special needs sister, Gracie, who died August 15th. Ben feels a connection with his sister every time he plays alongside his TOPSoccer athlete because there was nothing she enjoyed more than watching her brother play soccer.
Leon, Ben and all of the TOPSoccer Buddies have done a tremendous job of creating a warm, enthusiastic environment for the athletes, and providing an opportunity for every child to play soccer. Although the fall TOPSoccer season has just concluded, Ben is counting the days until spring season begins.
Well done Ben, Leon and TOPSoccer!