Goalball becomes collegiate sport!

Oct 03, 2014
Tagged with: Goalball becomes collegiate sport!

BREAKING NEWS: UC Berkeley just started the nation’s first competitive college athletic team for individuals with a visual impairment. This is pretty big news. But you probably didn’t hear about it on your local TV news station nor did you read it in any papers because; it wasn’t there. The only spot I found reporting it is UC Berkeley themselves. You can read about it here: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2014/09/22/new-athletic-team-breaks-barriers-for-the-disabled/

Collegiate disability sports have been around for a while. Currently, students with disabilities can play and even receive scholarships for track, field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, and swimming at several universities around the country. But this is the first university to recognize a sport just for individuals with vision loss.
Jen Armbruster who will be co- presenting at the NIRSA conference with Derek van Rheenen from Berkeley, member of the National US Goal ball team and coach at Portland State University had this to say about the news. “Yes, I’m excited about this first move into formalizing a goalball team at a college. We need more of these opportunities for sure for college students with a visual impairment. Team sports are huge for growth and often persons who are visually impaired miss out on athletic team sports options. So not only as a current goalball athlete and coach but someone who wants to see the game grow and works in a University setting I say bring it on and I can’t wait for Portland State V. Cal Berkley to be the first match between Universities and bragging rights on the West Coast!”
Portland State University, where Jen Armbruster works, is following suit to Berkeley’s foundation. They are currently functioning as a community team but with university students on the team and plans to be able to offset cost for the students this upcoming season they hope to have a PSU team by next season. Armbruster brings up another good point about team sports. Team sports have been shown to have great effects with students.

In an article on Athletics for All written by Regina Whitmer Chris Bigelow, director of student services for the Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington says that, “team sports helps youngsters learn about teamwork, collaboration, and solving problems, all important 21st-century skills”. Kids with visual impairments often have no opportunities for team sports and this move could be instrumental in getting them off the sidelines and into the game. As an individual without a disability growing up it was my dream to get a college scholarship to play ball. I worked hard and was fortunate enough to see my dream become a reality. But I can’t imagine what my high school years would have looked like if I knew I didn’t have a chance. Not because of my own personal skill or dedication but because the opportunity didn’t even exist. To me that is a tragedy and one that doesn’t have to exist!

Imagine the cycle of effect this one little shift could have on an individual’s life. Now the high school student with a visual impairment works hard on and off the court so that they have the skills and the grades they need to get a college scholarship to play goal ball. That scholarship leads them to a secondary education that plays a vital role in helping them get a job. And that job leads them to be a successful, independent, contributing member of our society!
So I say let them play ball! More colleges and universities need to step up and follow suit, and I wonder which school will be next?

Author: Kelly Bonner

  • bobl07

    This is the best news of the sports year! To know that a new athletic opportunity for people with disabilities has been established is just another positive step toward making our nation even more aware of the health benefits for people with disabilities. Also, hoping this generates a movement to bringing even more opportunities for a group of our society that is underserved.

  • Jen Armbruster

    These are great first steps, much like the first taken by Universities when Title IX was first introduced. This is an awesome oppurtunity for college students and glad to be part of the movement.

  • Joehlert

    this is very to cool to see just as long as it stays strictly for those who are blind and visually impaired.

  • bobl07

    Ho Joehlert. Thank you so much for your comment. Is there an issue if people without disabilities learn to play Goalball?

  • Joehlert

    I have no problem with those who aren’t blind or visually impaired learning how to play or even play recreationally in gym classes in schools. But it was a sport created for those with a vision impairement. It is something that those if us in the VIP community can call ours in a sighted world. Believe me I’ve had sighted friends play and love it but I’d rather it not become something that everyone competes in. I mean just look at the deaf sports community they don’t even want to join n with the Paralympic community and i find that admirable of them. I’m not saying I think IBSA should break off and be its own thing either but if they did I would back that decision if there was good reason given