Sophomore’s team takes third in goalball

Sophomore Justine Yang and a group of other blind girls ranging from the seventh to the 10th grades got third in the high school goalball championships last weekend.

Goalball is a sport designed specifically for blind athletes. It includes lines of raised tape, elbow pads, blackout goggles, a maximum of six players, a ball with bells in it and a silent room.

With only five players on their team, and only one practice, the Iowa girls division had no chance. Or so the other teams thought.

“At lot of the schools are boarding schools, and they practice more, but we only have one practice. It was surprising that we won. Since we only have one practice, everyone (the other schools) always thinks that we would be easy to beat, but we always try our best no matter how much practice we get,” Yang said.

Everyone watched intently as the teammates listened for the ball coming their way, ready to block it from entering their goal.

“It was my first time competing in goalball competitively, but I have to say that it was so much fun, and I would totally do it again,” Yang said.

Every time the sound grew closer, Yang could hear it. In a flash, she was down in front of the goal, successfully blocking the ball from it’s path.

“You would think that you would be more nervous because you couldn’t see, but it’s actually better, and it makes your nerves go away.” said Yang, concerning the blackout goggles.

At one point in the game, Yang took a deep breath, picked up the ball and stood, preparing to throw it. With the 10-second time limit for throwing running out, she aimed and threw, hoping to get it into the goal. All she could hear was the jingle of the bells, until, goal! A few more rounds and goals later, and she and her team comprised of freshman Ashlyn Schlus, freshman Bailey Martin, seventh grader Olivia Midcalf and eighth grader Angela Wittrock, were standing in front of everyone with their trophies.

“I would say it’s a good pretty intense sport, but we learn how to trust our teammates, and we learn how to work together as a team, and no matter how well or not well we do, we all agree that we’ll try our best. And we also learn how to depend on our hearing rather than our sight to play the sport,” Wittrock said.

“It’s fun and intense and a pretty underestimated sport,” Schlus said. “People think that blind people can’t do anything, let alone play sports, so we kind of made our own sport.”

“It was our first time ever for Iowa women’s division to score in the top four. It was amazing,” Yang said.

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