By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 12, 2016-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is very proud of our TOPSoccer Program. Special Children playing soccer in an organized league actually started in Eastern New York back in 1978 when two Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) clubs, the Huntington Boys Club and Massapequa Soccer Club, separately started programs in an era when Special Children playing sports is not as accepted as it is today. While the LIJSL TOPSoccer Special Children’s Program under the direction of Chairperson Ann Marie Toth is thriving, with 28 clubs having programs, there were only pockets of TOPSoccer players here and there outside of Long Island. But thanks to Pete Bussa and new TOPSoccer volunteers, that is rapidly changing and that’s why Pete is our Personality of the Month in January for leading these efforts.
“Pete Bussa is very passionate about TOPSoccer and he has done an absolutely wonderful job of bringing it to diverse corners of New York State,” commented Eastern New York President Richard Christiano. “He is most deserving of being our Personality of the Month to kick off 2016.”
Our honoree grew up playing football and lacrosse in Hicksville, Long Island, married his wife Jo Ann, has lived in Oceanside for many years and was promoted to Sanitation Supervisor for the Town of Hempstead. Pete became involved in soccer when his son Matthew came home from kindergarten nearly three decades ago with a flier from the Oceanside United Soccer Club. So Pete registered his son and starting coaching that team as well as the squad with his daughter, Kimberly.
He was a quick learner and the three teams he coached were quite successful. The Oceanside Tornadoes of boys born in 1984, the Oceanside Herricanes of girls born in 1987 and the Lynbrook/East Rockaway (formerly Oceanside) Piranhas of boys born in 1992 won a total of 15 LIJSL division titles, seven Long Island Cups and appeared in the State Cup semifinals three times. Pete has wonderful memories of coaching but very few photos as they were destroyed when his home flooded during Hurricane Sandy three years ago.
He moved up the volunteer ranks and became Oceanside United’s President from 1994 to 2002, replacing Jim Volpe, now Eastern New York’s Olympic Development Program (ODP) Chairperson. Pete’s life took a dramatic turn 25 years ago as one of the players on the Tornadoes had a sister with Down’s Syndrome.
“Her mom asked me if there was any way she could play soccer. That's when I started Oceanside United’s Special Needs Soccer Program,” Peter said. “After my last team graduated from youth soccer, I hung up my whistle and retired from coaching competitive travel teams, but I still mentor young coaches today. Over the years, other club presidents reached out to me for help setting up their own TOPSoccer Programs so when Richie (Christiano) asked me to take over the TOPSoccer Program for the state, it was just a perfect fit for me.”
Mr. January has been Eastern New York’s TOPSoccer Chairperson for the past five years. Several more LIJSL clubs have added programs during this time but his main efforts have been concentrated outside of Long Island as he has driven across the state to help bring TOPSoccer to those communities. Mainly thanks to Pete, there are many more Special Children now playing under the Eastern New York umbrella.
“I'm most proud of the fact that we now have 10 new programs throughout the state from the Staten Island Youth Soccer League to the East Hudson Youth Soccer League to the Mid-State New York Soccer League and up to the Capital District Youth Soccer League, so if you live in or near Montauk, Staten Island, Oneonta and Clifton Park as well as many other places, you can find a TOPSoccer program for your child,” Pete said.
For more info about TOPSoccer and to register your child, you can contact Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.