Sofia Bigeni eats, sleeps and breathes soccer. It’s in her family blood.
Older sister Bella was a standout goalie on the New Hyde Park High School team, while younger brother Jackson plays for Chaminade.
Sofia has been a starter for the Gladiators for three years now, so it’s no surprise that it’s through soccer that she said she’s found her other passion in life: Helping children.
Through head coach Maiken Bursig, the New Hyde Park team has become involved with TOP Soccer, which is a local community-based program that offers children with special needs an opportunity to participate in soccer.
Its website says that it’s a program for “all athletes with intellectual, emotional and/or physical disabilities who cannot participate in our intramurals or travel programs. We try to provide soccer opportunities for players to develop at their own pace in a safe, fun and supportive inclusive environment.”
Bigeni loves the program and has been inspired by it. She enthusiastically spoke about helping a 4-year-old with Down’s Syndrome, as well as other older kids. TOP Soccer has affected Bigeni so much that she says her career goal is now to become a special education teacher.
“I love to help little kids, who need help, and need to be in good hands,” the junior midfielder said. “It’s really rewarding and fun to work with these kids, and they really appreciate all the attention you give them.”
When she’s playing club or high school soccer, it’s Bigeni who usually gets all the attention. From opposing defenses, that is. She’s been a mainstay at midfield for the Gladiators, and is “the offensive catalyst of our team,” Bursig said.
Last year as a sophomore Bigeni scored a team-high seven goals, and through seven games this season she has scored four goals and added five assists.