(Newark, Delaware) In an exciting defensive battle, the Blind Sports Organization (BSO) Venom clinched their organization's sixth national championship title in front of a hometown crowd as the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) 2010 National Goalball Championships, held at the University of Delaware, came to a close.
With BSO's 2009 national championship title on the line, both teams locked horns for that final game--neither team wanting to concede a goal. It was a single goal from BSO player Andy Jenks that would ultimately decide the outcome. Despite an outstanding performance by New Jersey center Dan Gallant, his team was unable to penetrate the rock solid BSO defense. In the end, the current national champions emerged victorious and retained their championship crown: final score BSO 1, New Jersey 0. In the bronze medal match, Atlanta defeated a very surprising California team by a narrow 6-4 margin.
In the women's division, New Jersey and Kalamazoo Kraze, the top two women's teams in pool play, faced-off in the gold medal match. Both teams only lost one match in their double round-robin competition, with that loss coming at the hands of the other team. Entering the final game of the women's division, victory could have easily gone to either team. But in the end,New Jersey's strong offense and tight defense, would propel New Jersey to a 4-1 victory, garnering the 2010 women's championship title. Playing for the women's bronze medal, the BSO team gave local fans something to cheer about as they took to the medal stand after a 5-1 victory against a very young, yet talented Utah team.
Culminating the tournament was the induction of the 1984 Men's Paralympic Goalball Team into USABA's Hall of Fame as part of the Hall's inaugural class. Coach Stephen Kearney (Muskogee, OK) and athletes Winford Haynes (Austin, TX) and Reni Jackson (Louisville, KY) representing the team, were inducted by USABA Executive Director Mark Lucas before a packed auditorium of goalball fans and athletes.
Winford Haynes recounted the team's very first goalball experience, describing how much the sport has evolved. Citing that USA had never seen goalball prior to their very first match, Haynes and the first team were selected from track and field athletes not competing that day. Haynes said they appeared for that first match wearing only track shorts and singlets, noting everyone else wore heavily padded clothes and sported helmets. He quipped, "We knew we were in trouble when another coach approached us and asked if they could borrow some spare pads. We said, you wear pads for this game?"
Also, USABA head goalball official Dan Parisi was presented the President's Call to Service Award recognizing his 25 years as a goalball coach and official. Parisi will retire from officiating the end of this year.
According to tournament Co-Director Sandy White, "The 60+ volunteers involved in Nationals enjoyed the opportunity to help the dedicated athletes have a quality championship experience."
USABA Executive Director Mark Lucas, echoed White's comments and added, "Without the support of volunteers like coaches, officials and parents who serve as drivers, financiers and cheerleaders, we couldn't have a tournament."
Youth teams (ages 19 and under) will meet in St. Augustine, Florida, December 2-4, 2010, for the USABA Youth National Goalball Championship Tournament. Additional information is available on the USABA website, www.usaba.org. Tournament results will be posted to the USABA website.