Jun 28, 2014 11:00 AM by Jordan Mason
Colorado Springs------The 2014 Rocky Mountain State Games will include a sport for visually-impaired athletes only for the first time in the history of the Games.
The Rocky Mountain State Games is a multi-sport festival for athletes of all ages and athletic abilities including those with physical disabilities or visual impairment. Recognized by the National Congress of State Games, a member of the United States Olympic Committee.
In past State Games, visually-impaired and blind athletes have competed in several sports against sighted opponents, including wrestling, judo, triathlon and track and field. But the Games have not included a sport that is strictly for visually-impaired or blind athletes only.
The Colorado Springs-based U.S. Association of Blind Athletes lobbied the host Colorado Springs Sports Corporation on behalf of Goalball, an official Paralympic Games sport, for inclusion in the Rocky Mountain State Games in Colorado Springs.
The effort was a success and the first Rocky Mountain State Games Goalball competition will take place on Saturday, July 19, during the first of the two weekends of this year's Games. The Rocky Mountain State Games will be held on two weekends, July 18-20 and July 25-27.
State Games Goalball competition for men and women will be played in the gymnasium at the Colorado Springs School for the Deaf and Blind.
Meanwhile the Daniels Fund came through with a financial grant to assist USABA in forming a Goalball league along the Colorado Front Range, with teams in cities like Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs, which would help promote the grow the sport for men and women.
USABA staged a Wounded Warrior Goalball training camp for beginning or intermediate players in May at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. The camp introduced potential athletes and coaches to the sport.
The State Games Goalball Tournament will include four teams made up of players from the new league, and four teams of Military vets. The Military effort, which will include a training camp in Colorado Springs before the State Games, was made possible by a grant from the United States Olympic Committee through the Veterans Administration.
"We are excited about adding Goalball to the sports programs of the Rocky Mountain State Games," said Sports Corp President and CEO Tom Osborne. "It is inspiring to see wounded vets and men and women who are otherwise visually-impaired or blind use their energies in positive sport."
Competition will be conducted in a round robin format concluding in single elimination tournament play. There are no restrictions on age or the level of visual impairment of each athlete. USABA will provide all required equipment for participants. Eyeshades, knee and elbow pads must be worn by all participants at all times during play. Team jerseys must all match and be numbered.
The Sport Commissioner is Matt Simpson, a 2012 Washington and Lee University graduate and a member of the U.S. National Goalball Team that won a silver medal at the IBSA Pan American Games. The silver medal earned the team a spot in the 2014 World Championships in Finland and a shot at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Goalball was devised in 1946 in an effort to rehabilitate visually impaired veterans who returned from World War II. In 1976, it was then introduced to the world at the Paralympic Games in Toronto.
The sport, exclusively for athletes with visual impairments, consists of two halves of 12 minutes each and athletes wear blackout masks on a playing court.
The object of the game is to roll the ball into the opposite goal while opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies. Bells inside the balls help orient the players, indicating the direction of the on-coming ball. Therefore, while play is in progress, complete silence is required in the venue to allow the players to instantly react to the ball.
To learn more about the Rocky Mountain State Games or to register for any of the 42 sports offered in the Games, visit www.rockymountainstategames.org
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