Representing the United States and winning a gold medal is a dream come true for many athletes.
"My sister, Lindsay, played soccer, and I always admired her and wanted to get involved, too. I fell in love with goalball and wanted to represent the United States in the Paralympics."
"We even have beep baseball teams in Albany, Athens and Atlanta. Not every team is affiliated with the GBSA, but our goal is to get into communities in Georgia and build new teams."
Matt Simpson played for an under 19 national team that won the world championships in 2009, further fueling his passion, and he started receiving invitations to national team tryouts. failed to qualify.
When Matt came to Hal to discuss how much fun he had playing goalball at camp, and his desire to play in the Paralympics, Hal did everything he could to support his son.
"He was pretty focused," Hal Simpson said, "so I did my research, looking into the sport and the different associations and federations involved with it.
Played only by the blind, teams compete in groups of three, with players guarding a goal using their bodies, like soccer or hockey. The ball makes noise when it's in motion, so players can locate it audibly.
The same can be said for athletes with physical disabilities who dream of medaling in the Paralympics.
Other sports offered through the GBSA include beep baseball and beep kickball.
years, and he was immediately hooked.
Goalball is played on a court with tactile markings, so players can determine their location and which direction they're facing. Players take turns throwing the ball, end to end, in an attempt to score at one another's goal.
"I started playing when I was about 10 or 11 years old," Simpson said. "I tried it at a sports camp and fell in love with it and the opportunity it provided. People have a lot of different sports they can get involved with, but the visually impaired miss out on Nike Hoodie Jacket For Men things. Goalball was something I could play an active role in.
"When I first started playing, I wasn't that good," Simpson said. "But I had a goal of making the Paralympics, so I got in the weight room to get stronger and worked on the court to be physically better and improve my skills."
Undaunted, Simpson will get his chance in two years from now in Rio.
"This kid set his Nike Long Sleeve Running Top Womens
After years of training, Simpson joined Team USA and helped his team win a bronze medal at June's International Blind Sports Federation Goalball World Championships in Finland. That third place finish guaranteed Team USA a Nike Grey Long Sleeve Women's
Former Whitefield Academy wrestler Matt Simpson is in the process of living out that dream. Born blind, Simpson discovered the sport of goalball entering his teenage Nike Dri Fit Long Sleeve Top
Simpson punches ticket for Rio Paralympics
"(Visually impaired people) have the same wish to be athletically involved," Hal Simpson said. "As we move forward and more people come to us, we'll add more sports. We're growing as an organization and we want people to know what we do.
Matt's father, Hal, played a key role in his son's development.
"I would never have reached this level of success without that influence from my dad and what he did to make all this happen," Matt Simpson said. "He started a team and a program for me. I went to college and he made the program even bigger and better, and made opportunities for others as well. His passion has been awesome, and he's impacted the lives of others, too."
sights on this level and he belongs there," Simpson's father said. "He's reached his ultimate goal, and it's brought back memories of the old days, watching him mature and grow into the sport. I have a lot of pride watching him play."
spot at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Hal Simpson's research into goalball led to other outlets for the visually impaired because, as Matt got older, Hal discovered other sports for adults.
"Going to Finland and winning the bronze was a big outcome for us," said Simpson, who graduated Whitefield in 2008 and later earned a degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia. "Now, we're training for Rio for the next two years. Paralympics website, goalball was introduced as a medal event at the 1976 Paralympics in Toronto, and the sport is currently played in 112 countries.
"I worked with youth when I started about 12 years ago, and we formed a team. I took Matt to tournaments, and later national camps, and as he got older, he wanted to play at a higher level."
Now, Simpson will get his wish.
In 2011, with help from the Center for the Visually Impaired and the city of Atlanta, and funding from the Falcons Foundation, Hal Simpson founded the Georgia Blind Sports Association. According to its website, the GBSA is a non profit that serves as an advocate for visually impaired athletes in Georgia.
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