Mar 01, 2017

2017 Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament Recap

By: Jessica Kusku, Tournament Director

Another great year of competition has come and gone at the Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament. The tournament, held in Warren, MI, continues to be one of the largest tournaments in the country. This year, six women's teams, eighteen men's teams and more than 100 athletes and coaches traveled to Warren to compete for gold in the Paralympic sport.

For the first time, this year's men's tournament play was split between two divisions. The 18 men's teams were split into a Men's Tournament of 10 teams and an Elite Men's Tournament of 8 teams. This split was well received by all participants and allowed for more competitive games with less games ending in the mercy rule.

Games went from 8am to 9pm Saturday and 8am to 1pm Sunday, culminating in three medal rounds, an awards ceremony, and Michigan's traditional All-Star Games.

The medal rounds had great competition, highlighting some of the best teams and individual players from both the USA and Canada. It was also a historical year for medals. For the first time in several years, all the medals from the men's tournaments went to USA-based teams. Additionally, this is the first time in recent history that a Michigan team won a medal at the Michigan tournament.

During the awards ceremony, long-time volunteer, Julianne Kusku, who passed away in November, was remembered in a brief but touching tribute. Rather than a moment of silence, Joe Hamilton lead the crown in a roaring 30 seconds of thunderous applause, cheering, and buzzer sounds. In the words of Joe, "the Kusku family is not one for silence," and the tremendous noise made by everyone there was a loving tribute to a true volunteer and one of goalball's biggest fans.

To finish up a weekend of intense play, the top-voted players and coaches competed in the All-Star Games. The games are a fun way for players to show off their skills, trick shots, and provide a comedic end to the tournament. This year featured guest officials, coaches defending penalty shots, and a men's game that started as goalball and ended as dodgeball. It is a true testament to the sport and its players that teams can go from intense competition to fun and friendly play. Goalball really is one of the best sports in the world!

2017 Top Finishers by division:

Women's:
1. Georgia Phantoms
2. Nova-Q
3. Michigan Livewire

Men's:
1. Midwest Lightning
2. MWABA Eagles
3. BSO-Philly Wings

Elite Men's
1. Moneymen
2. Crown
3. Cyclones


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