News

Feb 01, 2017

Meet the 2017 Resident Goalball Athletes

Just months after winning silver at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the U.S. Men are back at work. Four athletes were selected to participate in the 2017 Resident Goalball Program at Turnstone Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Established in October 2015, the resident program played a significant role in the team's success on the goalball court in Rio. Meet your 2017 Resident Goalball Athletes!

Zachary "Zach" Buhler

At 12 years old, Zach tore and detached both retinas. He was introduced to goalball in January 2016 after his mom talked to a woman whose son played goalball. Zach aspires to make the U.S. Men’s National Goalball Team someday and wants to be a personal trainer to elite athletes.

Why goalball? “I love goalball because, before goalball, I didn’t have a sport that I could thrive at being legally blind. With goalball, I can be competitive, have fun and improve my skills.”

Zach looks up to his uncle who has always given Zach advice to better improve himself. “He has helped my practice and really helped me improve as an athlete. He has great qualities that I hope I have grown to and hopefully, as I continue to grow as a man, they improve and further resemble him. One of those is he is very patient and very calm. He is very slow to anger but everyone knows he means business. You never want to make him mad even though I have never seen him mad. He leads a great family and always seems to know what to do in every situation.”

Zach also credits the players of the U.S. Men’s National Goalball Team who went to the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. “They really got me hooked on goalball and really helped me improve my game and truly fall in love with the game.”

Classification: B2
Height: 5’10”
Birthdate: January 5, 1997
Hometown: Marion, Indiana
Current Residence: Fort Wayne, Indiana
High School: Lakeview Christian School ‘15
College: Plans on attending school for personal training
Motto: “Hard work beats talent when talents fails to work hard.”
Favorite cheat food: French fries, doughnuts or cake

Connect with Zach -
Facebook: USA Men’s Goalball
Snapchat: zach-buhler

Garrett Peckens

In 2009, Garrett Peckens attended a U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Sports Education Camp for blind youth in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He learned about goalball and joined a local team called the Michigan Striders. When Garrett aged out of the youth division, he and his friends created a new team, Michigan Omega, on which he’s been playing ever since.

Why goalball? “At first, I hated the sport. But then I met a man who went by the name of Junior. He took me under his wing and taught me how to survive the adult tournaments. I came to love the brotherhood that can come with playing on a team.”

Garrett looks up to and credits his father and brother and goalball teammates John Kusku and Tyler Merren for helping him become the man and the athlete he is today. “Without my parents’ support, I wouldn’t be here. I also thank John and Jessica Kusku for opening my eyes to a whole new world and teaching me the sport of goalball. And of course, Coach Matt Boyle for giving me the opportunity to be part of the resident program.”

Garrett aspires to make the U.S. Men’s Paralympic Team someday.

Classification: B3
Height: 5’10”
Birthdate: March 12, 1994
Current Residence: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Favorite cheat food: Pop and Moose Tracks ice cream

Connect with Garrett - 
Facebook: USA Men’s Goalball
Twitter: @peckens_garrett
Snapchat: Garrett Peckens

 

Matthew "Matt" Simpson

Matt Simpson was born with a congenital retina disease that left him with severely impaired vision from an early age. He became active in sports and found USABA at a Sports Education Camp in 1999. He fell in love with the sport of Goalball and has been playing competitively ever since.

Why goalball? “Goalball is my outlet where everything is level and the only thing determining my team’s success is how hard we are willing to work.”

After a podium finish at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Matt is already thinking ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. “I want to be the best goalball player I can be. I hope that takes me to the top of the medal stand in Tokyo, but I want to get better one day at a time.” Off the court, Matt aspires to earn his law degree. When Matt isn’t training, he enjoys reading and being active outside.

Matt attributes his success to his role model, U.S. Men’s Resident Goalball Coach, Matt Boyle, and his family.

Coach Boyle – His dedication as a coach has mirrored, in every facet, the dedication and intensity of the athletes that he coaches. We couldn’t do it without him.

My family –When I started playing goalball, there wasn’t a team for me to play with in my area and there wasn’t anybody who knew what goalball was but my family went above and beyond to provide opportunities to play the game and to ensure that I had everything I needed to chase this dream of becoming a Paralympic athlete.

Classification: B1
Height: 5’10”
Birthdate: March 30, 1990
Hometown: Smyrna, Ga.
Current Residence: Fort Wayne, Ind.
High School: Whitefield Academy ‘08
College: Washington and Lee ’12, Politics
Motto: Get better every day.
Favorite cheat food: Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies

Career Highlights:
2016 Rio Paralympic Games - silver
2015 Parapan American Games – silver
2014 World Championships – bronze
2014 National Championships – gold
2011 National Championships – gold
2009 World Youth Championships – gold

Connect with Matt - 
Facebook: USA Men’s Goalball
Twitter: @simpson_matt

 

Daryl Walker

Born with albinism, Daryl Walker was introduced to the sport of goalball at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in the spring of 1996. When he graduated from high school, he stuck with the sport. A couple of years after graduating from high school, he was invited to try-out for the U.S. Men's National Goalball Team. That opportunity would lead to his Paralympic debut at the 2008 Games in Beijing, China.

Why Goalball? “I love goalball because it’s the only sport I’ve ever played with 100% confidence in myself. Growing up, I wanted to be a professional basketball player. Being legally blind stopped me from being that. Now, I’m happy to say that even though I’m not a professional in basketball, I’m a professional in the sport of goalball.”

Daryl attended Florida State College and graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 2007.  He then decided to study Psychology at the University of North Florida. In addition to aspiring to be a Paralympic gold medalist, Daryl wants to coach goalball. He currently serves as an administrative assistant and substitute teacher at Turnstone Center.

When Daryl isn’t playing goalball, he enjoys trying new sports, meeting new people and teaching goalball.

He attributes his success to his role model, Jesus Christ, and to the following people:

Coach Matthew Boyle – His leadership and desire to make Team USA the best goalball team in the world had helped mold me into a better goalball player. His faith in my ability to play the game and progress as an athlete has led to success.

Coach E.J. Whitney – Before I was part of the U.S. Men’s Resident Goalball Program, I was definitely into weightlifting but when I got here I realized I knew nothing about weightlifting. I am now more flexible, faster, stronger and more powerful on the court which has helped me come off the bench and play with a sense of intensity a desire to help my team win the game.

My family – I was always the kind of kid into multiple sports and asked for all kinds of equipment and sneakers and jerseys. I almost didn’t come out to Fort Wayne to train full-time because my nephew called me ‘uncle’ for the first time and my nieces put a note in my bag saying they were going to miss me. It hit me how much they look up to me. But now I’m just working hard for them every day. Whether or not I win a medal, they’re proud of me and that means a lot. My mom, my dad, my sisters, everyone supporting me back home – my church family, my Chick Fil A family. Being able to represent them is very important to me. I walk with my family in my heart every day.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Church is a huge part of my life. It helps me be at peace, brings me joy, and influences every decision I have made in my life. Since moving to Fort Wayne to train with the Men’s Resident Program, every first Monday of each month I have had the privilege of teaching goalball to the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who are serving full time in Fort Wayne, Indiana. All of them love the game and have hopes to playing more after their mission is over. 

Classification: B3
Height: 5’11”
Birthdate: December 29, 1981
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Current Residence: Fort Wayne, Indiana
High School: Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind ‘01 (St. Augustine, Florida)
College: Florida State College ’07
Motto: Decisions determine destiny.
Favorite cheat food: Chick Fil A

Career Highlights
Two-time Paralympian (2008, 2016)
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – silver
2015 Parapan American Games – silver
2014 IBSA World Goalball Championships – bronze
Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games – 4th  

Connect with Daryl -
Facebook: USA Men’s Goalball
Twitter: @albinowarrior


Jan 20, 2017

A New Perspective: 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon

A New Perspective: Thoughts from the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon

By: Jill Price, Guide Runner & Special Contributor

This weekend I had the honor of being part of the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon, in an entirely different way than I normally would have been and as a result, the most incredible people were brought into my life.  This adventure started with a referral from Bernie Tretta with Achilles International to David A Adame of Eyecan Alliance.  I spent the entire weekend with the most amazing and hardworking athletes I have ever met.   Among these athletes were a few that really touched my heart.

Most of the athletes I met this weekend are visually impaired; however let me tell you, THEY ARE UNSTOPPABLE!!  Among the athletes I met, is a 4.0 graduate student, a NASA administrator, a mother of 4 – yes 4, and a former financial analyst who followed her dream to compete in this year’s Rio Paralympics and currently is an elite runner for the USA Paralympic Track Team. A-MAZING!

This weekend we learned about U.S. Association of Blind Athletes and the integral role it plays in the blind/visually impaired community. We visited the Chilled Cryospa and experienced what it feels like in a tube at -240 degrees for 3 minutes (amazing), got a behind- the- scenes tour of NASA, shared a pre-race dinner and finally, we actually ran the streets of Houston.

I had the opportunity to watch and cheer these athletes this weekend in everything from the 5K to the marathon.  It was awesome! I had the special privilege along with another runner, to guide a very fast VI Athlete in the Half-Marathon, Amy Kelley.   Even though I had to pray to God the entire race for extra legs to keep up with these speed demons, it now has become my absolute favorite race, ever, and I have done my share of races!

One of the guides said something during our introductions that really hit home.  He said he had been running and doing triathlons for many years and then met Brandon Adame, a blind athlete and his dad David, with Eyecan Alliance, at the IM Texas Expo. He knew at that very moment that he had found the big reason he started running in the first place. This is exactly how I feel.

I am not good at much, but I can run.  It is something I have had a passion for all of my life.  I have been running marathons since 1995 and have done every other event under the sun since.  Although it has taken me over 20 years to figure this out, I have finally found the big reason I started running so long ago.  David A Adame, Bernie Tretta and all of you amazing Blind/VI athletes...you have changed my life forever. Thank you. I cannot wait to be with you all again!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USABA member Brandon Adame and his guide Brent finish the Aramco Half Marathon in Houston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rio 2016 Paralympian Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt addresses runners and guides at the pre-race dinner in Houston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runners and guides with medals, smiling after finishing the race.


Nov 22, 2016

Fill The Houses this Giving Tuesday!

We need YOU to help us #FilltheHouses this #GivingTuesday!

With construction nearly finished on the two homes for our U.S. Goalball Resident Program in Fort Wayne, we need your help filling the homes with furniture, appliances and furnishings.

Last October, six goalball athletes and one coach moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana in pursuit of a common dream – to be the best goalball players in the world. Less than one year later, four of the seven helped the U.S. Men’s Goalball Team win silver at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games!

Resident athletes will return to Fort Wayne to train at the Plassman Athletic Center at Turnstone full-time in January 2017. Help us make sure our resident athletes are welcomed back with everything they need so they can focus on training. Your Giving Tuesday tax-deductible donation will help provide couches, beds, linens, silverware, dishes, appliances and furnishings to make resident goalball athletes feel at home. Can't wait for Tuesday, November 29th? Donate today!

Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a global movement that celebrates generosity and giving back. Will you join us? Giving Tuesday empowers you to have a personal impact on communities across the nation by changing lives through sport and recreation programs for Americans who are blind and visually impaired.

The Resident Program was established to provide an opportunity for young athletes to pursue a dream of playing elite goalball as well as opportunities to attend college or seek meaningful employment.

 

Don't want to wait until #GivingTuesday? Donate now to help #FillTheHouses!




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