“Quiet Please… Play!”
”Many athletes shuffled around the ZAC gym in Camas, WA on Saturday, November 15th and Sunday, November 16th. The Northwest Association for Blind Athletes put on a weekend long high performance training camp for members of our two goalball teams, the Northwest Avalanche and the Boise Blaze. Whether on the court or on the sidelines waiting to be subbed in each individual was wearing a Northwest Avalanche jersey, blacked-out eyeshades, and knee pads.
Goalball is a sport designed for those who are blind or visually impaired. Two teams compete, with three players from each team on the court at a time. Teams trade throws switching between offense and defense. On offense, they attempt to throw or roll the ball from their side of the playing area and into their opponent’s goal. The game begins at the call of the referee for “Quit please… Play” The ball is heavier than a basketball but hollow with a metal ball inside. Players must use the sound of the bell to judge the location of the ball. On defense, they stretch their bodies out on the court attempting to block the ball from going in their net. If they stop the ball, they have ten seconds to attack and attempt to score a goal of their own.
Chemistry On and Off the Court and Shared Experience
“Alright, let’s take a five minute break.”
As they walked over to get some water and pet their guide dogs, who were watching from the sidelines, the athletes came together and talked. They laughed at the jokes shared from a comedy show one of them had attended, they quoted favorite lines and moments from their favorite TV shows, and they made plans to get dinner together after the event. “That’s why we all play well together,” teammate Sonja Steinbach remarked, “We have really good chemistry.”
The Athletes Returned to Play.
Our athletes do not let themselves be defined by their impairment. They are athletes. They have a desire to play, to win, and show no fear out on the court. The fact that they have a visual impairment is only a characteristic that brought them to the sport.
As hours go by the athletes comment on how they are tired and sore from two long days of play. However, in the same breath, they discussed ideas of how they could potentially continue to play beyond the determined end time of 2pm.