CHICAGO (Jan. 16, 2024) – U.S. Soccer today announced Joslynn Bigelow has won the third annual ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award, which recognizes an individual who is making an impact in the United States’ broad landscape of Disability soccer.
“This award is one of my favorites, and I always enjoy reading all nominations from across the country. As U.S. Soccer aims to grow the game at all levels, pausing to recognize those impacting our grassroots game on a daily basis is of fundamental importance,” said Stuart Sharp, U.S. Soccer Senior Director of Technical and Grassroots. "Joslynn certainly fits the mold of someone supporting the game’s growth. For over a decade, she has dedicated herself to providing quality and inclusive soccer opportunities both at a local and national level. Joslynn is a very deserving winner, and I am sure she will use this as only further motivation to continue to make an even greater impact in the future.”
Bigelow earned the honor for her work with Down Syndrome Sports of America, where she helped develop the soccer pathway for adaptive athletes and serves as head coach of the organization’s Futsal National Team, as well as for her over decade-long commitment to TOPSoccer and the Special Olympics.
Since beginning as Down Syndrome Sports of America’s Futsal National Team head coach in 2022, Bigelow has led the team at four events, including the 2023 ADAPTandTHRIVE Invitational where the team trained and competed alongside U.S. Soccer’s Extended National Teams. Bigelow has also developed touchpoints when the team is not together for camps, instituting online, bi-weekly sessions where the athletes can engage with each other through conversation and functional soccer exercise.
"It's surreal to be nominated, let alone awarded,” Bigelow said. I live and breathe the work we do through the ADAPTandTHRIVE Initiative. This award is a culmination of our efforts to date and is a reminder to continue to drive accessibility, opportunity, and inclusion through the soccer community. Whether you are new to the adaptive soccer space or a champion of accessibility, all have a role in serving soccer players and professionals with disabilities."
Bigelow has long been active in adaptive sports with various organizations, serving as a USYS TOPSoccer volunteer in Oregon for 16 years and working as an assistant coach for CP Soccer for two years. She is also part of the ADAPTandTHRIVE Working Group and helped develop U.S. Soccer's first Modern Language Document pertaining to disability language, a census of players with disabilities participating in U.S. Soccer, and an interactive map to help players find disability soccer programs in the United States.
Nominated alongside Bigelow for the ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award were Randy Corey for his work overseeing TOPSoccer in Cincinnati, as well as MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform.
In 2021, Sandy Castillo won the inaugural ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award for her work as a long-time coach and advocate in the TOPSoccer program around Southern California. Last year, Shawn Danhouser won the award after serving on the Board for Diversity and Inclusion in Soccer with the U.S. Soccer Coaches community, as well as for his work with US Youth Soccer’s TOPSoccer.
About the U.S. Soccer Federation
Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer has been the official governing body of the sport in the United States for more than 100 years. As U.S. Soccer looks toward the future amid an unprecedented moment of opportunity, we’ve aligned our efforts around five strategic pillars: Grow the game by increasing youth and adult participation and accessibility to the sport; Foster the best playing environments through quality of referees and coaches, increase DEIB and participant safety; Develop winning teams through solidified pathways and success of professional leagues; Grow the soccer economy to fuel reinvestment by increasing membership, fandom and commercial success; and Create a world-class organization through revitalized structure and culture, best-in-class talent, progress in DEIB, and more. For more information, visit ussoccer.com/ourvision.