We are truly fortunate to have Joslynn leading our TOPSoccer Program as Director and Head Coach. Her exceptional efforts have not only sustained the program over the past years but have also made it flourish. We express our deep gratitude to her and take immense pride in her contributions.
In Fall of 2020, Coach Joslynn Bigelow took the helm as the Director of Eastside Timbers' TOPSoccer program and wasted no time in launching the program's very first virtual season. With an emphasis on tailored coaching instruction adapted for the virtual environment, Coach Joslynn led two sessions designed to accommodate players of different ages and abilities. To add an extra touch of socialization, a group of TOPS volunteers (including some of our own EST players) joined in to interact with the players and serve as positive role models for playing at home. The success of the Fall season paved the way for the program's inaugural Winter camp, which featured special guests such as Timber Joey and Ashley Hammond (co-founder of CP Soccer and Chair of the National Disability Soccer Committee for U.S. Soccer). Despite Coach J's battle with COVID-19 during the camp's bonus day, the players' skills were showcased online, gaining the attention of both regional and national TOPSoccer chairs. The innovation and success of the Eastside Timbers' TOPS program also resulted in the recognition of Alison Olson as OYSA's Volunteer of the Year and Coach Joslynn's third Coach of the Year award (previously won in 2016 and 2017).
Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, 2021 proved to be a year of great personal success for Coach J. In addition to earning her Master's degree and BCBA licensure, she also obtained her Coaching License-D and co-led the U.S. Soccer #AdaptandThrive Working Group, under the guidance of the DSC. As part of the #AAT initiative, Coach J collaborated with advocates in the disability soccer community, including coaches, volunteers, and players from the national Men's Paralympic, Men's and Women's Deaf, and Power Soccer teams. She even traveled to New York in the summer to support CP Soccer's camp alongside some of her fellow group members. The #AAT's accomplishments were celebrated in December 2021 during the second annual Disability Soccer Awareness Month, sponsored by Degree. The month included several noteworthy achievements, such as the release of U.S. Soccer's first Modern Language Document pertaining to disability language, a census of players with disabilities participating in U.S. Soccer, an interactive map to help players find disability soccer programs across the country, and more.
In 2021, EST TOPSoccer successfully implemented their first-ever hybrid soccer season, offering two masked in-person sessions and one virtual session to provide maximum accessibility to players during the pandemic. This multi-setting approach proved beneficial to both volunteers and players. The end-of-year party was held at the Rainbow Trout Farm, where players could fish alongside Coach and volunteers, Timber Joey, Blaze, and their families. The Summer Camp, held at EST's home complex, was fully in-person and once again featured Timber Joey. Fall 2021 was also fully in-person, as per the requests of players and families. Starting with nearly 60 players in Spring 2020, TOPS was impressed with the 45 player turnout for Fall 2021! Winter Camp was planned at Oregon Premier Futsal but had to be canceled due to icy conditions. This presented an opportunity to shift to a virtual program for the week.
In addition, Coach J and some of TOPS' skilled players formed the first inclusive adult recreation team at Rose City Futsal in 2021. The team played for three seasons in a D4 Men's league and created a new "team" within TOPS in addition to its three soccer ability-based groups - the Ultra Amigos - for players seeking more competition and challenge.
In 2022, Coach J continued her commitment to promoting inclusive soccer. She flew to Florida to support CP Soccer at the U.S. Soccer Paralympic Soccer ID camps, where the first-ever Women's Paralympic ID camp took place. She also accepted the role of State Chair for TOPSoccer with OYSA and became the Director of Unified Champion Schools for Special Olympics Oregon. Coach J encourages the soccer community to embrace opportunities to include players of all abilities and promote realistic opportunities and competition for all.
February 10th, 2024
Joslynn Bigelow, our Eastside TOPSoccer Director, earned the second annual Carla Overbeck Leadership Award, an honor given to an individual who demonstrates a unique ability to lead and guide others and who contributes to the success of an initiative that benefits those outside their own organization and places emphasis on collaboration within and among leadership.
Bigelow recently won the third annual ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award, which recognizes an individual who is making an impact in the United States’ broad landscape of Disability soccer. She holds a USSF D license as well as certifications in TOPSoccer, Special Olympics, CP Soccer, and Blind Soccer. She has been named the Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA) TOPSoccer Coach of the Year.
Bigelow also currently serves as OYSA TOPSoccer Chair. As an assistant coach for CP Soccer, she has been a part of numerous development and grassroots camps, coached in the IFCPF Club World Cup in Spain in 2022, and was part of the ADAPTandThrive Invitational. She is also the Head Coach of the Down Syndrome Sports of America Futsal National Team.
We can't say enough about how amazing Joslynn is, and we are very lucky to have her on our staff at Eastside!
ADAPTANDTHRIVE AWARD RECOGNIZES AN INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION MAKING AN IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES’ BROAD LANDSCAPE OF DISABILITY SOCCER; BIGELOW SERVES AS HEAD COACH OF DOWN SYNDROME SOCCER’S FUTSAL NATIONAL TEAM
CHICAGO (Jan. 16, 2024) – U.S. Soccer today announced Joslynn Bigelow has won the third annual ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award, which recognizes an individual who is making an impact in the United States’ broad landscape of Disability soccer.
“This award is one of my favorites, and I always enjoy reading all nominations from across the country. As U.S. Soccer aims to grow the game at all levels, pausing to recognize those impacting our grassroots game on a daily basis is of fundamental importance,” said Stuart Sharp, U.S. Soccer Senior Director of Technical and Grassroots. "Joslynn certainly fits the mold of someone supporting the game’s growth. For over a decade, she has dedicated herself to providing quality and inclusive soccer opportunities both at a local and national level. Joslynn is a very deserving winner, and I am sure she will use this as only further motivation to continue to make an even greater impact in the future.”
Bigelow earned the honor for her work with Down Syndrome Sports of America, where she helped develop the soccer pathway for adaptive athletes and serves as head coach of the organization’s Futsal National Team, as well as for her over decade-long commitment to TOPSoccer and the Special Olympics.
Since beginning as Down Syndrome Sports of America’s Futsal National Team head coach in 2022, Bigelow has led the team at four events, including the 2023 ADAPTandTHRIVE Invitational where the team trained and competed alongside U.S. Soccer’s Extended National Teams. Bigelow has also developed touchpoints when the team is not together for camps, instituting online, bi-weekly sessions where the athletes can engage with each other through conversation and functional soccer exercise.
"It's surreal to be nominated, let alone awarded,” Bigelow said. I live and breathe the work we do through the ADAPTandTHRIVE Initiative. This award is a culmination of our efforts to date and is a reminder to continue to drive accessibility, opportunity, and inclusion through the soccer community. Whether you are new to the adaptive soccer space or a champion of accessibility, all have a role in serving soccer players and professionals with disabilities."
Bigelow has long been active in adaptive sports with various organizations, serving as a USYS TOPSoccer volunteer in Oregon for 16 years and working as an assistant coach for CP Soccer for two years. She is also part of the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group and helped develop U.S. Soccer's first Modern Language Document pertaining to disability language, a census of players with disabilities participating in U.S. Soccer, and an interactive map to help players find disability soccer programs in the United States.
-U.S. Soccer. (2024, January). Joslynn Bigelow Wins 2023 U.S. Soccer #AdaptAndThrive Disability Award. U.S. Soccer. https://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2024/01/joslynn-bigelow-wins-2023-us-soccer-adaptandthrive-disability-award