ROMNEY - Goalball practices are in full swing at West Virginia School for the Blind in preparation for the 2018 Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind (EAAB) Goalball Tournament. The 2018 EAAB Goalball Tournament will be held on the WVSB campus on March 16-17 with many schools for the blind across the east cost in attendance.
Most individuals outside of the blind community have no idea what the sport of Goalball is, and up until last year, student athlete Senior Emalee Plumley was one of those people. Emalee transferred to WVSB at the beginning of last school year. When Emalee arrived on campus many teachers tried to convince her to become part of the WVSB Goalball team. Emalee talked about her introduction to the sport, “I wasn’t sure what Goalball was, therefore I wasn’t sure I’d want to be a part of this ‘new’ sport. Eventually I was able to observe what a day of practice would look like, and decided that Goalball might just be a sport I’d love to play.”
Goalball is a sport designed specifically for blind and low vision individuals. Goalball was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate World War II veterans who had lost their sight during the conflict. Goalball made its Paralympic debut in Toronto, Canada in 1976 and the women’s event was added to the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York, USA. In 1978, the first World Championships for Goalball took place in Vocklamarck, Austria. The International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) governs Goalball. Participants of Goalball play in teams of three and try to toss a ball with bells embedded into the opponents goal. Balls are thrown by hand and kicking is not permitted. Games are played indoors, typically on volleyball or basketball courts. As previously mentioned the ball has bells embedded, therefore players must use the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball. Rules state that all athletes must be blind folded during the game, and cannot touch their blindfold goggles while on the court, unless instructed by a referee.
You may be wondering why players wear blindfolds during the game, and the answer is quite simple. Every player wears blindfold goggles because some of them still have some usable vision, and the playing field wouldn’t be equal if blindfolds weren’t required. Athletes also wear padding on their legs, arms, and some wear chest pads. Throughout the game athletes take turns rolling the ball back and forth, trying to score as many goals as possible, but must be careful to not break any of the rules that could result in a penalty! Penalty shots are thrown by the opposing team while your team only has one player on the court to block. As of 2017, there were 81 nations that competed in Goalball competition.
The West Virginia School for the Blind Goalball team is on the road today in Baltimore as they play games against the Maryland School for the Blind and the Virginia School for the Blind. The student-athletes involved with the team are ecstatic for what this season has in store for them, especially Seniors Sadie Moon and Emalee Plumley, as this is their final season of competition. The West Virginia School for the Blind Goalball squad is coached by Kristie Mills and Anita Adkins. The WVSB Goalball team would like to invite the community to experience and watch their upcoming games locally as they host the 2018 EAAB Goalball Tournament on March 16th & March 17th.