Veterans competing in Rocky Mountain State Game Goalball tournament

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Twelve veterans from across the country came out to compete in the Rocky Mountain State Games goalball tournament.

After a goalball player puts on their eye shades, they can’t see.

“Everyone is blind. Whether you are partially sighted like me, or totally blind, or have full vision, once you put the eye shades on, everyone is the same, so anyone can do this recreationally.” Asia Miller, four-time goalball track and field paralympian, said.

The history of goalball goes back to World War II. It was created for vets to help them recover from their injuries.

“For the blind veterans in World War II coming home with catastrophic eye injuries, so they didn’t have any sports for us to play, so goalball was created,” U.S. Navy veteran Calvin Poole said.

Each team has three players on the court, and they roll a ball that has bells in it, so they can hear the ball coming.

Veterans said this sport is helping them stay active while making new friends.

“It brought back that camaraderie just being around other veterans and sharing old war stories and talking. And just networking, understanding their problems with benefits and just life struggles,” Poole said.

“So playing goalball is a team sport and the military is very team oriented. Once I got out of the military I lost that team, so I was looking for a new team, and luckily I found goalball and directed my life into a better direction,” veteran Andrew Lessard said.

Lessard wants other vets and people who are blind and visually impaired to continue with physical activity and to never give up.

“Continue moving forward and never look back, and don’t worry about the struggles you have been through because people have been there and done that. People have beat that,” Lessard said.

Saturday, these athletes will wrap up this week’s events with a fun 5k.

The United States Association of Blind Athletes is hosting their World Youth Goalball Championships from July 28-31 at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

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