New Jersey Youth Soccer recently hosted its 32nd Annual NJYS Awards Dinner presented by RWJBarnabas Health, where many players, coaches and members of the soccer community were celebrated at the Pines Manor in Edison, N.J. Two of those honorees were Natalie Brandt and Finn Wintz, who were selected as the 2019 NJYS TOPSoccer Volunteers of the Year.
“It was my honor this year to present the annual TOPSoccer Volunteer of the Year Award to two very deserving individuals, Natalie Brandt of Morris United Soccer Club and Finn Wintz of West Morris Soccer Club,” said Carol Cordiner, NJYS TOPSoccer Program Director. “Both Natalie and Finn have shown tremendous leadership and dedication each week to bring the joy of soccer to many players aiding in developing their abilities and creating fun. Natalie and Finn are wonderful role models, and I hope their outpouring of support will encourage others. NJYS is very grateful to the many volunteers that support our TOPSoccer Programs.”
Natalie Brandt has been an active member of Morris United TOPSoccer for more than four years as a participant coach, and she most recently became a Lead Student Coordinator. The Chester native has been very dedicated to her new leadership role, performing activities such as organizing coach training sessions and managing membership communication.
Brandt has also endured a tough personal battle with a rare cardiac condition that has required ongoing medical treatment. Her humility and positive demeanor are two characteristics that have certainly helped in her role as Lead Student Coordinator for Morris United TOPSoccer, as well as with overcoming any hardships regarding her health. At West Morris-Mendham High School, she is a Peer Leader and member of the International Club, and she is also considering the Peace Corps once she graduates from college. Soccer has always been a huge part of her life, playing from first grade through her sophomore year of high school. Due to her cardiac condition, she is unable to play anymore, but she remained involved this past season as a team manager.
“We have TOPSoccer every Friday, and it makes my week seeing all of the kids being active with their friends and playing a sport,” said Brandt. “Throughout the season, they progress and get so much better. It is just so rewarding to see.”
Finn Wintz is currently a senior at West Mendham High School, and he has been playing soccer for most of his life. He started in recreation soccer before advancing to a travel team, and he now competes at the club level. He currently plays his club soccer at FCUSA while also competing at Mendham High School.
Wintz has been involved with West Morris SC TOPSoccer for a number of years and first attended sessions with his older brothers at an early age. In addition to his work with the West Morris SC chapter, he also volunteers his time at various other TOPSoccer Jamborees. For more than two years, he has maintained a leadership role with his local affiliate, and he helped them expand their programming into the winter season. Beyond TOPSoccer, Wintz performs in various leadership positions at Mendham High School and in his local community. He also referees matches for West Morris SC.
“I have been in TOPSoccer for six years, and it has really impacted my life,” said Wintz. “Watching the kids grow in the program has been so rewarding, and I really enjoy seeing the general enthusiasm that they show towards playing soccer. It is really infectious and great to see.”
TOPSoccer is a community-based training and team placement initiative for young athletes with special needs. The program also provides a curriculum to train coaches in how to provide fun and engaging soccer for those young athletes. The program, designed by US Youth Soccer, emphasizes player-specific development, training and meaningful participation rather than competition and results.
To learn more about NJYS TOPSoccer or to find out how you can get involved with the program, visit NJ Youth Soccer online.