Goalball silver medalist helps launch sport at Carmel Middle School

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When Daryl Walker first learned about goalball, he thought it was the “silliest sport ever invented.”

Not anymore.

Walker has traveled the world as a member of the U.S. men’s goalball national team, winning a silver medal in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. He joined two other members of the team to visit Carmel Middle School in October to share the sport with a new generation.

Goalball is designed for the visually impaired. Participants wear black-out goggles to ensure everyone is on a level playing field. Athletes play with a ball the size of a basketball but twice as heavy.  It is filled with bells so it can be heard as it bounces and rolls across the court. Teams aim to throw the ball into the opposing team’s net and use their bodies to block balls coming toward their own.

Walker, 31, and his teammates demonstrated the sport for the Carmel students before giving some of them a chance to try it for themselves. Many of them had never experienced it before, but special services teacher Dave Romano wants to change that. He recently helped launch a goalball team at the school, the first one at the middle school level in CCS. The team is open to students with and without visual impairments.

Romano was introduced to goalball as a teacher at the Indiana School for the Blind. He became a coach for the team and enjoyed learning to play.

“The toughest part is figuring out where you are on the court,” Romano said.

Walker, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., said goalball has found a solid base of support in Indiana. The national team is based out of Fort Wayne.

“Nowhere – and I mean nowhere – have we ever been where a place loves goalball (as much as) Indiana,” Walker said. “Apparently, this is the place that we were meant to be.”

He hopes the sport catches on in Carmel and provides the same inspiration that it did for him.

“Just because you have a disability or some limitation in your life, it doesn’t stop you from achieving your dream,” Walker said. “There may be some setbacks, but there are other things out there. A sport like goalball was out there for me.”


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