WMU News

Area high school athletes bring home goalball championship

Dec. 5, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Two area high school athletes helped bring home the top prize in the recent National High School Goalball Championship.

Tyler Merren, 18, of Dorr, Mich., and Jason Mandarino, 16, of Vicksburg, Mich., were members on the Michigan team competing in the 2002 National High School GoalBall Championship Nov. 7-10 in St. Augustine, Fla. The Michigan team was selected from the nearly 100 participants in the Western Michigan University/Michigan Blind Athletic Association's Sports Education Camp held at WMU and the Michigan School for the blind in early May.

Merren was the tournament's leading scorer and was the unanimous choice for tournament MVP.

"The team was absolutely dominant, outscoring its opponents 49 to 12 in five games and winning the gold medal game 11 to 3," says assistant coach Mike Macabee of Kalamazoo. "Considering that goalball scores are much like hockey scores, averaging nearly 10 points per game is pretty unbelievable."

The team swept its round robin bracket, with wins over South Carolina, Georgia and Utah, then defeated hometown favorite, Florida, before besting Great Britain in the gold medal game.

Similar to hockey or soccer, goalball is played exclusively by visually impaired or blindfolded players. It was developed in Eastern Europe after World War II, came to the United States in the 1970s and today is played internationally. Three players on opposite ends of a volleyball-sized court attempt to roll a ball equipped with bells past the opposing team's defenders and across the goal line, with the ball traveling at speeds exceeding 40 mph.

"This is surely the most outstanding team we have ever had in Michigan," Macabee says. Other outstanding players on the team included Steven Denuyl of Clinton, Mich., Brad Lucas of Lincoln Park, Mich., and Peter McCubbin of Grand Ledge, Mich.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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