Tales From The Yellow Bus

I had a rare treat last night. I was the yellow bus shuttle driver for the National Championship of Goalball, driving between the Comfort Inn in Vancouver to McLoughlin Middle School where the competition was held. The competitors are blind and come from as far as New York and Florida.

Vancouver is hosting the National Championship of Goalball. What is Goalball? It’s is a sport for the blind started after World War II “as a way to help rehabilitate blinded war veterans.” It’s a three on three sport that is a combination of soccer and bowling. One side attempts to score a goal by throwing a blue goalball filled with bells. The opposing team attempts to block the ball by throwing their padded bodies in front of the ball. The goalball can reach speeds of 45 mph and can leave bruises. One player moaned the fact that he forgot his “cup” for one match and another player said a shot to the armpit hurt for a couple of days. Referees check the facemasks prior to the match to make sure the athlete is completely sightless.

Photo by Zachary Kaufman

Imagine playing dodge ball sightless only you don’t know until the last second that the ball is coming and you want to get hit to stop the ball.

The athletes were all a friendly bunch, men and women in their 20s and 30s, some with canines and walking sticks. One young man was 10 when I was married in 1992. Another group was from Arizona and loved our weather. He said it was over 100 degrees when he left. He loved that it was only 65 here. He was hoping it would rain!

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