WMU News

Nation's top goalball players head to WMU for regional tournament

February 18, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Top goalball players from across the United States and Canada will vie for top honors at the 16th Annual U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament Saturday, Feb. 27, on the Western Michigan University campus.

Teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Ontario, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Indiana as well as several from Michigan are expected to compete in the fast-paced game played by visually impaired or blindfolded players.

The competition gets underway at 7:30 a.m. in the Student Recreation Center and will continue until about 9 p.m. The public is invited and there is no admission charge.

Goalball has all the action of other sports and is similar to hockey or soccer. It was started in Eastern Europe by blind veterans after World War II and brought to the United States in the 1970s.

Playing on a surface the size of a volleyball court, competitors use a 3.5-pound ball that contains a bell so players can hear it. Using their senses of touch and hearing, three offensive players catch, pass and attempt to score against three defensive players. The game is fierce and aggressive with the ball traveling at speeds of more than 40 mph.

People who attend the tournament will see some of the nation's best goalball players in action.

Five Michigan players who represented the United States in the 1997 World Goalball Championships in Madrid, Spain, will compete. Three of them, Chris Piper, Joe Hamilton and Shawn Donaldson are WMU students, while the other two, Robin Theryoung, an Albion College student, and Jill Redfield of Trenton, play on the WMU women's team.

The WMU women were U.S. champions last year, while the WMU men's team finished second nationally in 1998.

Other WMU students who will compete are Alex Diaz, Jason Meddaugh, Kathy Schultz, Asya Miller and Lori Miller.

Volunteers also are being sought to help stage the tournament. People who can spare a morning or afternoon and who like hard-hitting, exciting athletic events are asked to call Dr. Paul E. Ponchillia, WMU professor of blind rehabilitation, at (616) 387-3449.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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