SCU’s Neighbor up for national award after receiving state, regional honors


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Kala Neighbor will find out in a week if she is the national Buddy of the Year.‚ÄčKala Neighbor has had a huge impact on the Space Coast United TOPSoccer program.

On Jan. 15, she has a chance to win a national award.

Neighbor, a Cocoa Beach High School graduate who is attending the University of North Florida, has already been honored as the Florida Youth Soccer Association TopSoccer Buddy of the Year and the Region III TopSoccer Buddy of the Year.

She is one of four national finalists for the US Youth Soccer National Award, which will be announced at an awards gala at the US Youth Soccer Workshop in Baltimore.

US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities and is organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, ages 4-19, who has a mental or physical disability.

Neighbor began volunteering as a sixth-grader and has gone from being a buddy to both coaching participants and mentoring new buddies As a mentor, she provided instructions for setting up the fields based on that day’s planned activities and games. She was also responsible for ensuring every player had a buddy.

“She is amazing,” Liam Fuller, who has been a buddy for two years, said in a press release. “She is so organized and efficient, but also warm and patient. She gives me the reassurance I need that I am doing the right things with my players.

“She and her parents (Kevin and Jennifer) are the backbone of TOPSoccer at Space Coast United.” 

Space Coast United President Mike McGonagle also praised Neighbor and her family in the press release.

“Kala’s family has been vital to the success of TOPSoccer at Space Coast United,” McGonagle said. “We are extremely pleased to see Kala recognized at the national level. Her dedication and enthusiasm make her an excellent role model for youth engaged in community service.”