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Annual goalball tournament more than simply playing sports

Baker Prairie Middle School students helped get things rolling Friday by hosting the annual state goalball tournament for blind and visually impaired athletes.

by: HUGHEY - Goalball is a team sport designed for blind and visually impaired athletes. It is played on an indoor 60-by-40 foot court, using a basketball size goalball, which contains bells that allow players to track its location by the jingling sounds.

by: HUGHEY - 
The object is to score by rolling the ball past the opponents into the net. Opposing players dive and stretch out their bodies on the court to block it.

With varying degrees of visual impairments, players wear blindfolds to keep everything equal. Strips of tape on the floor tell their fingertips boundaries and their position on the court.

The contest is sponsored by the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes and the Oregon Blind and Visually Impaired Students Fund.

Students in the Understanding Disabilities classes taught by Kim McKie were hosts for the tournament. One of her two classes hosts the goalball tournament.

The other hosts the Spring Field and Track Meet for the blind and visually impaired athletes.

Canby middle school students have been associated with blind and visually impaired athletics for nearly 19 years. It began when McKie took her classes to Salem to help run track meets at the Oregon School for the Blind.

The Canby students started hosting the annual goalball tournaments in 2007 at the former Ackerman Middle School. Both events came to Canby in 2009 when the Oregon School for the Blind closed.

The blind and visually impaired athletes get plenty of support. Baker Prairie classes each adopt a team.

PE students help officiate the games and the Understanding Disabilities students cater to visitor needs. The Baker Prairie PTSA supplies the team room with plates of cookies and food.