Students from The Illinois School for the Visually Impaired received hero’s welcome after their athletic accomplishments at the Goalball Conference Championship in St. Louis.
Goalball may not be a well know sport, but for ISVI, it’s a big deal. “The kids worked hard all season. They woke up for practice at 6 a.m., five days a week, and their dedication payed off with a 1st place win for the girls and a 2nd place finish for the boys,” says ISVI boys coach Darla Chambers.
According to The North Central Association of the Schools for the Blind, Goalball is a team sport played exclusively by the visually impaired. There are two teams of three players which alternate rolling and defending. The offensive team rolls the ball in a manner that is either hard or soft, depending upon player style, in an attempt to get the ball past the opposing three players. The defensive team listens for the approach of the ball and attempts to prevent or block the ball from crossing the goal line. The ball is rolled back and forth with the offensive and defensive team alternating until time expires for the half. The game is played in two five or seven minute periods and the team with the most points wins.
The girls’ team, which finished 11-1 in the regular season and 2nd place in the conference tournament last year, featured a six player roster. The boys’ team, which also finished in 2nd place in 2016, had five players.
Senior Jaylen Brady described his first experience playing GoalBall, “I had a blast. There are three key positions in the game: left wing, right wing and center. I scored three goals as our team’s left wing in the conference championship. I can’t wait to start playing again!”
Girls coach Barb Strang says the competition against teams around the Midwest was thrilling, “The kids played their hearts out, listened to what we had to say and displayed a positive attitude. The girls’ team really benefited from practicing against the boys’ team this season. All the kids just love this game.”
To learn more about the game that’s been a part of the Paralympic games since 1976, go online to Paralympic.org.