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Hailey Lange Creates Lasting Bonds through Top Soccer Program

April 10, 2017
Photo by Francesca Hodges

Photo by Francesca Hodges

Junior year, many students are pressured into volunteering and taking on a multitude of extracurriculars to fill up their college applications come senior year. While this pressure may force students into dedicating their meager free time to activities they don’t even fully enjoy, junior Hailey Lange hasn’t faced this conundrum.

Lange, a soccer player herself, has found her niche within the Top Soccer program through the Poway Vaqueros club, both volunteering as a buddy and coordinating the activities. This program is unique, pairing up kids with special needs, ranging from five to 18 years old, with a volunteer. The buddies create unique bonds and friendships, while learning some soccer along the way

“We have a lot of volunteers from the Poway Vaqueros club and we buddy them up with a special needs player and teach them different skills and play soccer,” Lange said.

A passion for this type of program runs in the family, as Lange’s father and older brother founded this Poway branch back in 2008. The sessions run for one hour on Sundays through March into May, integrating learning and fun.

“For the first half-hour we split them up into different stations and one station they work on shooting while another might be an obstacle course to work on dribbling and then they switch off,” Lange said. “The second half they just scrimmage each other.”

Lange’s love for this program has magnified over the years, and as with the other volunteers, Lange has grown incredibly close with her buddy.

“It’s really great when some of the volunteers that went off to college come back and their kids get so happy to see them,” Lange said. “They get really close with their buddy, one of the kids tried to invite me to their birthday party.”

The close of the season brings bittersweet goodbyes, but always goes out with a bang, eyes trained towards next year.

“The last day of the season we play a game and they get medals. We take pictures and then have a little pizza party,” Lange said. “Last year one of the seniors organized a little festival at Poway High and there were a bunch of fun games and booths.”

Although Lange is still a junior, her final year with the program is fast approaching, and by her senior year she will have dedicated 10 years to the program. Already, Lange has felt this program’s impact in her own life.

“It teaches you a lot about patience because you have to be really patient with them,” Lange said. “It makes you think in different ways because you have to think how your buddy thinks and come up with creative ways to interested them and so they can understand it.”

Top Soccer has become much more than just something Lange will write about to colleges, it has become an invaluable experience, one in which she has forged connections not with words, but with a black and white checkered ball.

Story by Lindy Verhage
Lindy is a Junior at MC and the Sun’s Features Editor