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.