WMU Home > About WMU > WMU News

WMU News

Volunteers sought for goalball tournament

Feb. 22, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Let the games begin! Visually challenged athletes from across the United States and Canada will converge on the Western Michigan University campus Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4, for the First United States Association of Blind Athletes John Bakos Memorial Goalball Tournament.

The competition, pitting the best teams from the United States and Canada against each other in the fast-paced sport for blind athletes, runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 3 and 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 4 in the WMU Student Recreation Center. Teams are expected from Arizona, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Ontario, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana to compete along with several teams from Michigan.

Goalball is similar to hockey or soccer, but is played exclusively by visually impaired or blindfolded players. Teams of three athletes on each side of a volleyball-sized court launch a ball at speeds exceeding 30 mph at the opposing side's goal. The athletes are blindfolded to put all players on an equal footing, and four bells encased in a basketball-sized ball help the athletes track its location. Blocking the ball involves a full body dive in front of its path. Developed in Eastern Europe after World War II, goalball today is played by athletes across the globe.

WMU teams are predicted to do well in the tournament. One men's team and one women's team is composed of WMU students and graduates who played on the USA Goalball teams in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. The Paralympians include Nikki Buck of Paw Paw, Mich., Asya Miller of Battle Creek, Mich., Tyler Merren of Dorr, Mich., and Robin Theryoung of Colorado Springs, Colo. The USA women brought home the silver medal, while the USA men landed the bronze in the highly competitive Paralympic Games. The two WMU teams will be among the favorites at the tournament.

People are welcome to watch the action and cheer on the competitors or volunteer. Volunteers do not need to know anything about goalball prior to volunteering. The core of the volunteer pool is made up of WMU students, but others also have volunteered for previous WMU goalball tournaments. Those interested in working either morning or afternoon shifts and who enjoy hard-hitting and exciting sporting events are asked to contact Sherry Gordon at sgordon@voyager.net or (269) 381-4144 or Dr. Paul Ponchillia, WMU associate professor of blindness and low vision studies, at paul.ponchillia@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3449.

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

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400