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Davis Journal

Goalball gives blind or visually impaired kids chance to play sport meant just for them

Feb 08, 2024 01:58PM ● By Becky Ginos
Bowie Utley, 6, peeks to find the ball as Tyler Stott rolls it toward him in a game of Goalball at Reading Elementary. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

Bowie Utley, 6, peeks to find the ball as Tyler Stott rolls it toward him in a game of Goalball at Reading Elementary. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

CENTERVILLE—Children who are blind or visually impaired may not get the same experience in sports as other kids. The Davis School District Healthy Lifestyles department is supporting the introduction of Goalball, a sport specifically geared to those children. Last week, first through 12th graders held their first practice in preparation for a tournament in April.

Goalball is a team sport where players try to throw a ball that has a bell inside of it into the other team’s goal.

“It’s so amazing,” said Meghan Stott, who is a teacher for the visually impaired in the district and also a parent of a player. “I fell in love with the sport. A lot of kids say they hate P.E. because there are flying balls and kids running around. This is a sport for them.”

It gives them a sense of camaraderie and togetherness to be part of a team, she said. “They don’t have to apologize, they can focus on their strengths.”

Goalball was devised in 1946 and is now included in the Paralympic games. “We moved here two years ago,” said Stott. “My daughter had played Goalball and loved it so we got involved here. We were practicing in Murray and we thought we’d love to have it in the Davis School District. They’ve supported us completely.”

Teachers pass the ball around to kids who are blind or visually impaired to show them how to play Goalball. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

It was shocking that in a district this large kids were having to travel, said Bethanie Monsen-Ford, Supervisor, Supervision and Evaluation of Related Service Providers for the district. “There are already huge barriers for these athletes, we don’t want distance to be a barrier. We want to make it so they can enjoy (Goalball) being here.”

Monsen-Ford said the district asked what equipment they needed. “A ball and lots of tape. There’s tape on the floor all around the gym. It’s tactile and used for orienting themselves.”

“It’s a mix between dodgeball and soccer,” said Kaitlin Stott, a ninth grader at Millcreek Junior High and Meghan Stott’s daughter. “It’s hard to do some sports when you can’t see what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Kaitlin has Albinism. “I have no pigment in my hair, skin or eyes,” she said. “The thing in the back of my eye should be red but mine is pink. I also have nystagmus so my eyes look back and forth and I have photophobia which means I’m light sensitive. When I’m in the sun I’m mostly fully blind.”

It’s fun to connect with other people who are visually impaired, said Kaitlin. “It feels great to make blind jokes without people laughing awkwardly.”

Kaitlin is more on the defense side of things, she said. “When you score a goal it feels amazing. At the nationals we were playing for gold and we were down by one point. I was supposed to be on the other side but we got scored on. I got the ball and scored – we won gold.”

The first time kids play it’s an exciting moment for parents, said Meghan. “I love how it’s given my daughter confidence and teammates. As a teacher I’m excited to share this with the rest of the kiddos.”