On The Cover
A week of festivities
Students overcome obstacles to succeed
Reaching a new generation
Sports For The Sightless
Last summer, Dr. Tal Amasay, coordinator of Barry’s physical education and coaching program, found himself in Israel, in pitch-black darkness.
How he got there is a bit of a story. But, in essence, Amasay had a colleague who was coaching Israel’s goalball team with the hopes of making the 2016 Paralympics. Goalball is a team sport designed for blind athletes, and Amasay’s colleague wanted help in learning how best to train them.
Intrigued, Amasay researched the subject and eventually earned a grant – the Ambassador Jean Wilkowski International Fellowship Award – to travel to Israel to help with the training.
In his quest to fully understand these athletes, he took part in an exhibition in the Israeli city of Holon in which he experienced – for 90 minutes – what it feels like to live in complete darkness.
“We went around from room to room and also out on the street, at a market, buying food,” Amasay said. “Everywhere I went felt dangerous.”
During his five weeks in Israel, Amasay also visited with an Israeli folk-dance instructor who teaches folk dancing to the visually impaired.
“It was intriguing to see the methods she used to teach them–a loud voice and very descriptive instructions,” Amasay said. “I talked to the participants, and they said dancing made them feel free.”
Amasay took all that information and developed a program to train the goalball athletes. The training worked – Israel recently finished third in the European Championships and is on track to qualify for the Paralympics.
“When we talk about strength and conditioning, we rarely talk about the disabled,” Amasay said. “But to work with them and see how much they appreciate it was an amazing experience.”