Campus News

College of Communication and Information Celebrates Service Learning with TOPSoccer

Photo of Janice Birdwhistell from TOPSoccer being honored by the College of Communication and Information.
Janice Birdwhistell, right, accepted the College of Communication and Information's award on behalf of TOPSoccer.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 1, 2017) — Lexington Youth Soccer Association’s (LYSA) TOPSoccer was awarded the inaugural top honor at this year’s University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information CIS 112 Service Learning Thank You Breakfast.

Held each year in December, this breakfast serves as a thank you to all the service le­­­­arning organizations that partner with the CIS 112 course, an accelerated communication and composition class at UK with a service learning component that requires students to complete 10 hours of community service over the course of the semester.   

This year, for the first time, TOPSoccer received an award for its commitment to welcoming and engaging UK students. Many of the UK students who work with TOPSoccer for their course requirement complete more than the 10 required service hours and will often continue to work with the organization well after the course has ended.

Janice Birdwhistell, the former development director and chief of staff for the College of Communication and Information and avid TOPSoccer volunteer, accepted the award on behalf of TOPSoccer.

 “TOPS is very honored by the award,” Birdwhistell said. “Volunteers are invaluable to our program and we could not exist without them.”

TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based soccer program designed to meet the needs of young athletes with physical, developmental and/or intellectual disabilities. US Youth Soccer, the nation’s largest youth sports association, started this organization in 1991 with the goal to improve the overall fitness, self-esteem and social skills of these athletes.

“TOPS is a great service program. It gets students involved in the community, but it also connects them to a specific community that they would not have gotten to know otherwise,” said Sam Asbell, a CIS 112 student who volunteered with TOPS last semester. 

 TOPSoccer’s Lexington program began in 2009 under the leadership of Birdwhistell’s daughter Jessie, then a graduate student at UK. She worked with various youth sports associations like the Lexington Youth Soccer Association and the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association (KYSA) for initial support and funding, as well as garnering support and volunteers from various businesses and individuals in the Lexington community. 

“We love working with CIS 112 and love having their students volunteer with us,” Janice Birdwhistell noted. "TOPSoccer is a labor of love for our volunteers, and our goal is to pass that love on to the CIS 112 students that choose to work with our program.”  

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue