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Bella Pepe Honored as TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year by Eastern New York

By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Bella_Pepe_for_Web

October 27, 2020-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is very pleased to announce that East Islip teenager Bella Pepe has been selected as our TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year. TOPSoccer, The Outreach Program for Soccer, is a community-based program to give children and young adults with physical and/or intellectual disabilities the opportunity to play the world’s most popular sport.

Bella was nominated by four people, including her own uncle, Louis Pepe, who founded the East Islip Soccer Club’s TOPSoccer Program, named Just For Kicks, a dozen years ago. Louis wrote “Bella has been our voice by informing students in the school about the program and coming to help as instructors. She goes above and beyond to show the TOPSoccer players that they belong on the field and she makes them feel special by acknowledging them. While at Just For Kicks, she has been instrumental in building the confidence of one special player who wanted no part of soccer…Bella is the epitome of everything and more of the type of young adult you want representing this prestigious award. She is an extraordinary person and it is hard to believe that she is only 15. 15!!…I was not blessed to have a daughter but if I had, I would only describe what I would want in a daughter to be like Bella as she is such a caring, giving and selfless person.”

Bea Huste-Petersen wrote “my charity, EJ Autism Foundation, hosts an annual sold-out event at Captain Bill’s called the Black Tie Hoodie. Bella is an integral part of the event’s success as she’s part of the basket committee and fills and decorates over 100 baskets. She also reaches out to adults to participate and is on hand at our event helping out in any way she can. Her leadership trickles down to others her age as she leads and others follow her lead. Organized, thoughtful and on target are some of her strongest attributes, a wonderful recipe for success. She works hard and, quite simply, gets the job done!”

Soccer Mom Nancy Villa wrote that “Bella has been a wonderful support and guidance for my son William, who is an 11-year-old autistic child. She is an altruistic young girl who has been incredibly patient, compassionate and inspiring in every practice at the soccer field. I have witnessed her extraordinary dedication to my son and all the kids who are within the spectrum of autism, facing challenging behavioral issues in which Bella has done a great job beyond her years, just being unconditionally loving and kind. Bella is clearly the change we all want to see in this world.”

East Islip’s Director of Referees, Patricia Graydon, wrote that “it’s very hard to recall a time when there wasn’t a smile on Bella’s face and that is reassuring to the children. She has a very caring way about her that makes the players feel very at ease…I also have the pleasure of working with Bella in our referee program. She started as a junior referee and quickly rose up to become an instructor for younger referees. She is a self-starter who does not need much direction. Bella is always willing to help with extra games or a ref who is struggling. She is positive in her instruction and tireless with her enthusiasm. I hope to have many more years working with this extraordinary young lady.”

With approximately 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 nine 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 Children With Special Needs. 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, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.