Not many people have ever heard of the sport goalball, we hadn’t.  Visionalist caught wind of goalball and had to see it for ourselves.  We went out to Kalamazoo for a goalball tournament and all of our questions were answered.  We met up with Tyler Merren, a world-class goalball player.  Tyler, who suffers from Retinitis Pigmetosa, was accompanied by his wife and two daughters.  They have the medical condition Retinal Blastoma, a cancer of the retina, but that doesn't stop them from cheering on Daddy.  Tyler was kind enough to explain the basics of goalball. 
            The game is played on a volleyball-sized court.  A goal extends the entire width of the back of  the court, and teams of three take turns shooting and defending.  It is a fast-paced back-and-forth tango of whipping a goalball at the opposing team and diving in front of a speeding ball to block a goal.  The players are all blindfolded to equalize any varying level of vision loss to absolute darkness.   The goalball itself is about the size of a basketball, but weighs about six pounds, and ball has bells in it so that the players can hear it coming.   
            After watching the game you realize how physically and mentaly demanding it truly is.  Players are constantly throwing themselves onto the court in front of speeding shots without knowing for sure if its going to hit you in the stomach, face, legs, or groin.  A constant awareness of your teammates positions and the location of the ball is all done by ear.
It just so happens that goalball is a paralympic sport, and Tyler is on the U.S. team.  He was on the team at the Athens papalympic games where the U.S. placed third.  This year he will be competing in Beijing.  “As far as goals, I just want to get that gold,” says Merren.  Visionalist is doing everything we can to get to Beijing to follow Tyler on his quest for victory.    



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