Ever seen goalball? Neither have the competitors

Ever seen goalball? Neither have the competitors

PORTLAND, Ore. – It’s a sport you’ve likely never seen.

Neither have any of the competitors.

Portland's Jen Armbruster, 37, is headed to her sixth Paralympic games to compete in goalball – a unique game for the visually impaired. She already has one gold medal, but she’s never seen it.

Goalball is played on a volleyball-sized court, where teams of three try to throw a 3 lb. ball past their opponents and into a goal.

“It’s got four bells inside so it’s all about hand-ear coordination,” said Armbruster. “Everybody plays blindfolded so it doesn’t matter what your vision level is.”

Armbruster lost her vision as a teenager to Optic Neuritis.

“Even before I lost my vision I’d probably been playing organized sports since I was four or five,” Armbruster said.

She dreamed of playing basketball for Team USA, but her vision loss paved a new road to a gold medal.

“Throwing yourself on the ground, getting pummeled with the ball was definitely a draw, and the team sport aspect of it.”

Off the court, Armbruster is the Coordinator of Inclusive Recreation at Portland State University, which has a state of the art goalball court. Team USA plans to use the court to train before they leave for London on Aug. 11.