Iowa repeats regional goalball title

The Iowa goalball team won the title on Nov. 2.

The Iowa girls goalball team defended its title as the winner of the North Central Association of Schools for the Blind (NCASB) goalball tournament by defeating Missouri with a score of 2-1 on Saturday, Nov. 2. The NCASB Goalball Tournament is held in St Louis every year with 10 states participating: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Goalball is a team sport developed in 1946 to help rehabilitate returning World War II veterans with visual impairments. The object of the game is to roll the ball past the other team into their goal. Goalball is played on a standard volleyball court with goals on either end. Raised tape is used to outline the key areas of the court so that players are able to orient themselves. Games are played between two teams with three people on the court for each team.

All athletes must have a visual impairment to be eligible to play; however, each athlete wears a blindfold to ensure an even playing field. The offensive team rolls a ball which contains bells either fast or slow in an attempt to get past the opposing team’s defense. The defensive team listens for the bells in the approaching ball and tries to block it from going into the goal. The defensive team blocks the ball with their bodies, so they often drop to the floor and stretch out as far as they can to block the ball.

The ball is rolled back and forth with the offensive and defensive teams alternating until the team with the most points wins. Goalball is played in two-, five- or seven-minute periods, and the rules for men’s and women’s goalball are the same.

The Iowa girls goalball team placed third three years ago at the NCASB goalball tournament in a surprise upset since the Iowa team had never placed in the tournament before. Determined to improve on 2017 results, the Iowa Rams worked hard in the off season competing against adult athletes in Des Moines to improve their skills. This hard work paid off as the Iowa girls team won the tournament in 2018.

Determined to defend its title this year, the Iowa team continued to work hard in the off season and went on to defend its title by winning first place. The girls won their first game Friday night versus Kentucky, 5-1. Their second game was against Illinois who had been the reigning champions before Iowa beat them in the finals in 2018. Iowa won that game, 3-0.

On Saturday, Iowa was able to beat Ohio 10-1 and defeat Indiana 2-0, before winning the championship game against Missouri, 2-1.

The Iowa team consists of five girls from ninth through 12th grade even though girls as young as seventh grade can participate.

“I’m honored to be a part of the Iowa team and extremely excited to finish my high school goalball career with another championship,” said senior Justine Yang, who has been a member of the team for the last three years.

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