The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) announced the election of two additional athlete representatives to its Board of Directors.
One of these two new additions is Huntington native Zach Buhler.
Buhler competed in his first Olympic games in Tokyo as a member of the USA Men’s Paralympic Goalball Team which finished fourth.
He is the third leading scorer on the team, with 17 goals at the 2022 IBSA Goalball Americas Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the USA men won the silver medal, qualifying for the 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships.
Mark Ackerman, USABA board chair, said, “The expansion of athlete representation to 33 percent of our board of directors ensures that the voices of our athletes are heard, and the needs of our athletes are met as we continue to grow and provide more sports opportunities or Americans who are blind and visually impaired.”
The board now has four athletes among the 12 members. Buhler and Eliana Mason joined fellow goalball Paralympians Matt Simpson, and Calahan Young.
Buhler said, “I’m super excited to be on the board, bringing more awareness to the sport of goalball and a voice to athletes in the sport has meant the world to me.”
All four athlete representatives remain active in the sport for both domestic and international competitions.
USABA has resumed its domestic goalball calendar for 2022 and national teams are prepping for the 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships later this year which will be the first chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The top two men’s and women’s teams at the event earn automatic entry for Paris. The USABA also announced the 16 individuals who will serve as goalball sport ambassadors June 3.
Out of the 16 athletes selected, 11 are Paralympians and ten competed in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo last summer, including Buhler. The other nine athletes joining Buhler are Lisa Czechowski, Amanda Dennis, John Kusku, Eliana Mason, Tyler Merrenn, Asya Miller, Matt Simpson, Daryl Walker, and Calahan Young.
Also on the ambassador team are 2016 Paralympians Andy Jenks, Libby Daugherty, Christian King, Ali Lawson-Trippe, Shavon Lockhardt, and Sean Walker.
The goalball ambassadors were announced after the blind soccer sport ambassador announcement in April.
“We are so pleased to be able to assemble these teams of sport ambassadors for our two Paralympic team sports,” said USABA CEO Molly Quinn. “Even more exciting is the commitment we’ve received from these Paralympians and Paralympic medalists to share their love of the sport with the next generation of Paralympic hopefuls and with those just starting goalball at the grassroots level.”
As ambassador, they will assist the USABA in spreading awareness around goalball and other initiatives through digital and in-person content throughout the year.
Goalball ambassadors also assist in raising critical funds to change the lives of other American athletes with visual impairments through sport and promote USABA programs supporting recreational athletes all the way up to the elite-level Paralympians.
This year, USABA is working together with the Turnstone Center for Adults & Children with Disabilities in Fort Wayne, to upgrade the goalball gym floor so athletes can continue to achieve sustained competitive excellence and create pathways for the next generation of goalball athletes. Donations to “Over the Goal line fundraising campaign will go towards the gym floor upgrade.
Additionally, USABA launches the new “Pathways to Goalball” video series, featuring several goalball ambassadors, along with coaches, referees, and youth development athletes. The series showcases wight individuals and their unique stories of how goalball has impacted their lives at every level of the game.
Goalball originated in 1946 and has become the most popular team sport for the blind and visually impaired. Since 1976, U.S. goalball teams have won a world-best 12 Paralympic Games medals and 11 world championship medals.
To learn more about the Paralympic sport of Goalball or USABA visit usaba.org.