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VISIONS Newsletter
Sports and leisure through the eyes of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

SUMMER/FALL 2005


Camp SportsVision A Grand Slam Event

As you can imagine, running a four-day sports camp is an expensive endeavor. This year’s camp expenses reached nearly $10,000 with dormitory lodging, meals, snacks, athletic facilities, supplies, and equipment. Fortunately, this year SportsVision was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Sarah Heinz House to support the sports camp. Members of the Lead Team of teens from the SHH also generously contributed volunteer hours to the camp. The many Lions Clubs of District 14N once again donated nearly $4,000 toward camp expenses. Other camp sponsors included: Custom Corners Printing, Domino’s Pizza, Grove City United Way, Bashlin Industries, TMS Physical Therapy, The Neely Group, McCarl Foundation, and AFSCME Local 819.

In all, 39 visually impaired youth from three states attended Camp SportsVision 2005. They played goalball, beep baseball, and audio darts. Campers also rock climbed, ran track, threw softballs and shotputs, practiced the high and long jumps, swam, danced, tumbled, and broke taekwondo boards. The highlight of the camp was a new activity: horseback riding. Each camper was given the opportunity to spend a 45-minute session on horseback.

It takes an enormous amount of human resources and sports knowledge to make sure all of the camp activities are adapted for the campers. SportsVision is grateful to the dozens of coaches and volunteers that make it all happen. The ATA Martial Arts Academy of Grove City, the AEBersol Recreation Center’s climbing wall staff, the SRU Equine Center, and the SRU Dance Department were helpful in providing multiple volunteers to assist with the adapted training. More campers, more activities, and more supporters—this summer’s Camp SportsVision surpassed all of our expectations. Camp Director, Wendy Fagan and her corps of student volunteers from SRU’s Adapted Physical Activity Council deserve endless praise for their tireless planning and operation of Camp SportsVision. You can read more about their success by checking out the Post-Gazette’s article on the camp at www.post-gazette.com/pg/05181/530465.stm. On behalf of SportsVision’s Board of Directors and all of the youth we serve: THANK YOU to everyone who was involved with Camp SportsVision 2005.

** ALL-STAR ACCOLADES **

Up to this point every person profiled in this column has been a visually impaired person. The time has come to also begin recognizing those people who provide extraordinary service to the cause of blind sports and leisure. Whether a person is blind or sighted, volunteer or athlete, SportsVision is committed to showcasing their activities within the sports and leisure arena.

Submit your suggestion for a person to profile by emailing Info@MySportsVision.org or calling 412-441-4940. We begin this new tradition by profiling a lady who changed my life 14 years ago.

Dian Heil, a recently retired vision teacher and mobility instructor for IU 4 has been a leading advocate of sports for the blind for nearly two decades. When I met Dian in 1993 she was a volunteer with the PA Association of Blind Athletes (PABA). Her many volunteer endeavors included coaching, athlete recruitment, fundraising, and public awareness. She even served as a PABA board member for several years. Dian became my first coach when she introduced goalball to me and encouraged me to join the local team. She ran weekly goalball practices for both women and men. Dian even traveled around the country at her own expense to coach our local goalball teams in regional and national competitions. From 1994-1996 Dian was appointed to be the Assistant Coach of the U.S. Women’s Goalball Team. For many years Dian organized an annual golf benefit to support “her” athletes. The funds enabled her to hold a spring sports clinic at Slippery Rock University. At the peak of her involvement, she served more than 70 visually impaired youth at each clinic. SportsVision’s spring and fall clinics have been patterned after Dian’s clinic concept. Dian’s fundraising also supported annual road trips to the Northeast Regional Games near Philadelphia. For more than a decade she has rented either a van or charter bus to transport her athletes to the games. She encourages all of the youth to try every activity the weekend offers. Earlier this summer she escorted three of her students to the games. While Dian has admittedly taken a step back from her intense volunteer service of the 1990’s to spend more time with her family, she is still an important advocate for blind sports. She has been SportsVision’s leading resource for athlete recruitment. She also leads the goalball instruction at every camp, clinic, and activity that SportsVision sponsors. In 2004 Dian joined SportsVision’s Board of Directors and is currently Treasurer. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an extensive article on Dian in its May 29, 2005 issue. You can read more about her career and volunteer service by logging onto www.post-gazette.com/pg/05149/511106.stm.

** ON THE CALENDAR **

2005 World Youth Championships
The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes is pleased to host the 2005 International Blind Sports Association World Youth Championships Aug. 4-9 in Colorado Springs. Following the success of the 2004 World Youth Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, the 2005 World Youth Championships will expand to include competition in four sports for blind and visually-impaired athletes, ages 13-19. These sports include track and field, swimming, judo and goalball. Athletes from 28 countries spanning five continents will compete in the championships. The United States will be represented by 42 athletes from around the country: Eight in judo, 14 track and field, 12 goalball and eight swimming competitors. “The World Youth Championships will showcase more than 350 of the world’s top blind or visually-impaired young athletes,” said Mark Lucas, USABA Executive Director. “It is our hope that many of these athletes will one day go on to represent their respective countries in the 2006 International Paralympic Committee World Championships or even the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.” The 2005 World Youth Championships is an excellent opportunity to see some of the world’s finest blind and visually impaired athletes excel in competitive sport. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Ryan Lucas or Jessica Delos Reyes at (719) 630-0422 or pressofficer@usaba.org.

2005 State Convention of the PCB Comes to Pittsburgh
All are invited to attend the annual state convention of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind that will be held Friday-Sunday, October 21-23, 2005 at the Radisson in Greentree. On Friday morning a representative from the AFB’s Career Connect program will present a variety of tips and tools for job seekers of all ages. That afternoon will be devoted to employment-related exhibits including potential employers, adaptive equipment available for on the job, and agency representatives from job training programs. There will be a panel discussion on Saturday afternoon with employed blind individuals sharing how they found their jobs and the challenges they faced. For more information about the weekend’s festivities, visit www.pcb1.org or call 800-736-1410.

2006 Ski for Light
The 31st annual Ski for Light International Week will take place Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2006 in Granby, CO. Visually impaired skiers and their guides will spend the week on the cross-country trails of Snow Mountain Ranch. The Inn at Silver Creek will host the overnight accommodations. Visually impaired skiers will be matched with sighted skiers who will act as guides and provide any requested tips for improving technique. Anyone interested in attending or gathering additional information should contact Lynda Boose at (906) 370-7541 or lynda@sfl.org.

Applications are also available online at www.sfl.org. The deadline for applications is Nov. 1, 2005.

Keep SportsVision’s Three Rivers Flowing
Pittsburgh’s early settlers chose its location and succeeded in building it into an essential urban center because of the three rivers that flow through the area. They relied on the rivers to hall in raw materials and ship out the finished steel products. Although SportsVision does not call them the Ohio, the Allegheny, and the Monongahela, it too relies on the constant flow of three rivers to ensure its growth. By way of direct support, United Way contributions, and SchoolPop.com shopping rebates, SportsVision brings in money from valued supporters and transforms it into sports and leisure opportunities for people who are blind. The first funding river that SportsVision relies on is direct support of its fundraiser events and appeal campaigns. When you buy a raffle ticket, attend a Monte Carlo Night, or send a check in response to a letter, you are sailing the river of direct support. The next funding river into SportsVision runs through the port of the United Way. Individuals who make contributions to the United Way through payroll deductions or in response to its annual campaign can direct their gift to support SportsVision. Simply select SportsVision, Inc. with organizational code 1324868 and the United Way river will float your gift to the SportsVision office. Yet another river of support available for SportsVision is SchoolPop.com. SchoolPop.com offers access to more than 200 on-line stores. When you register to support SportsVision at the SchoolPop.com on-line mall, you generate a river of rebates from all of the shopping you do through the site. Together these three rivers create and sustain SportsVision programs. Just as the production and sale of steel is impeded when a drought renders the rivers navigable, SportsVision growth and existing services are jeopardized when its three funding rivers run low. Whether you choose to travel the river of direct support, the United Way river route, the SchoolPop.com river, or all three rivers, all gifts flow into SportsVision programs. Welcome Aboard! Join us for the long haul and keep SportsVision’s three rivers flowing.

T E A M – TOGETHER EVERYONE CAN ACCOMPLISH MORE
By Dian Heil

With the mainstreaming of the Visually Impaired in public school, students sometimes are scheduled in an adaptive Physical Education class. Most classes are small in size or sometimes they are the only student. This year Andrew Trbusich of Mars Area school district is the only one in his class. During his first class for this year, Andrew met with his teacher, Mr. Terry Dillner. They discussed goals and what he would like to do. Andrew mentioned Goalball and practice in track and field events. Mr. Dillner set up a weight lifting program, ordered and indoor shot put, and made arrangements for senior students to play Goalball with Andrew. The program has been very beneficial for Andrew.

Mr. Dillner, referred to as TD, is one of the football coaches at the school. Since he works with team sports, he saw the need for Andrew to be part of a team with his classmates. Of course like most people, the students did not know anything about this game called Goalball. The first time they played, the kids loved the game. They said it was “awesome” and wanted to know if there were leagues in the area. They provide fantastic completion for Andrew.

Mr. Dillner has over 31 years experience as a physical education teacher with Key West and Mars public schools. This is the first time he has a Visually Impaired student in his class and certainly took an interest in Andrews’s needs and goals. TD said “He wanted to get Andrew involved with the other students and I think the other students are interacting with him too.” TD knew about the game of Goalball because he attended a workshop with Dr. Robert Arnhold at Slippery Rock University and that is where he was introduced to the game. TD even got in and played the game with the students. Because of TD’s interest, Andrew has improved his physical strength, overall skills and his offensive and defensive positions in the game. Playing the game takes a team of people to help get set up. The floor needs to be layed. Equipment needs to be in order so the students can start play immediately. Diane Aiken, Andrew’s paraprofessional does the set up, keep score and scrambles around the court to be the goal judge. All in all every one has fun and benefits from the game.

** S&L SPOTLIGHT ORGANIZATION **

U.S. Blind Horseshoe Pitchers’ Association

Since an accident in naval flight training during the Vietnam era, Ensign Dennis Wyant has been a legally blind leader in the veteran community. Dr. Wyant, now a Black Belt in karate, competitive runner, certified SCUBA diver, wannabe golfer, and advanced water skier has recently accepted yet another challenge. He has founded the U.S. Blind Horseshoe Pitcher’s Association. While the overarching mission of the USBHPA is to promote the sport of horseshoe pitching for blind and visually impaired people around the country, it strives to achieve a number of underlying directives. The USBHPA aims to educate both the sighted and visually impaired communities about horseshoe pitching for the blind, develop assistive techniques and devices to aid play, and become a clearing house for information pertaining to horseshoe pitching, horseshoe pitchers’ associations, and horseshoe pitching courts for the blind.

The USBHPA is actively seeking members; both visually impaired and sighted who are interested in becoming active horseshoe pitchers. Members of the Association will be known as “MIDNITE RINGERS”. Once the USBHPA has enough Midnite Ringers, it will begin organizing competition. Membership is FREE! To join, visit www.MidniteRingers.org or contact Dr. Dennis Wyant, 395 Baytree Dr. Melbourne FL. 32940. Call him at 321-757-6824.

** ADAPTABILITY **

Pitching Horseshoes

According to Dr. Dennis Wyant, founder of the U.S. Blind Horseshoe Pitchers’ Association, “Whether you are a preteen or a senior, you can benefit from the competition, exercise, and social contact that the sport of pitching horseshoes provides.” Once a person understands the basics of horseshoe pitching, it becomes easy to adapt for people who are visually impaired. Like all sports, it takes a great deal of concentration and practice to be successful. Whether for fun or for competition, pitching horseshoes is a worthwhile activity for all. The objective of horseshoe pitching is to encircle (ring) the steak with the horseshoes. Two teams, each with two pitchers throw two horseshoes toward the distant steak. While there are many accepted ways to pitch the shoe, the most basic is holding the closed, curved end in the hand and throwing it underhand with the open end toward the steak. The pitch is a “ringer” when the steak is inside the “U” of the shoe. Ringers, shoes that lean against the steak, and shoes that land within one horseshoe length of the steak all score points. Three for a ringer, two for a leaner, and 1 for within a horseshoe’s length. The first team to 21 points wins.

There are a few adaptations necessary to make horseshoe pitching doable for people who are blind. The steaks are placed 30 feet apart instead of the standard 40 for adult men. Pitchers can locate the far steak by using a target indicator. For partially sighted pitchers this might mean painting the steak a bright color or placing a light colored towel directly behind the steak. A totally blind pitcher can target in on a radio or beeper placed under a bicycle helmet or some other indestructible cover. The pitch partner might also use a white cane to tap the steak. It would be helpful for a sighted spotter to describe where the pitcher’s shoe is landing in relationship to the steak.

Like other target sports, once the muscles become used to the distance and direction, accurate throws will become more regular. Track progress by counting ringers verses the number of pitches. Also note whether non-ringers are long or short of the steak. Check to see if the opening of the shoes is facing the steak as this is necessary for ringers.

Horseshoe pitching can be both a fun outdoor activity and a competitive indoor challenge. For about $25 a set of horseshoes and steaks can be purchased from any sporting goods store, discount department store, and many hardware stores. The portable sets are great for the backyard, public parks, and picnic groves. Horseshoe pitcher clubs exist for the more serious pitchers. Most clubs have indoor courts that are used year-round. To locate an area club, visit the “Links” section of the www.MIDNITERINGER.com web site.

** HIGHLIGHT REEL **

Prototype Beeping Basketball System Developed
A team of Johns Hopkins students enrolled in a two-semester design-engineering course have developed a prototype basketball and hoop for the visually impaired. The backboard is equipped with a remote controlled sound source that emits pulse tones, thereby identifying the hoop’s location. An emitter powered by five 3-volt button batteries powers a high continuous sound from the ball. The project was sponsored by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland. The agency’s business services development manager, Mike Bullis admits the system needs some adjustments before it is totally operational. “The basketball's sound pitch needs to be lowered for the comfort of players and to avoid echo problems, which would sometimes make it difficult for a blind player to identify the ball's location.” Bullis hopes to interest a sports equipment manufacturer in making the basketball system and using the sound source to audibilize many other types of balls.

SV Offers Hands-on Demo
SportsVision participated in the exhibit area of the 2005 COMA Conference held at the Western PA School for Blind Children on Thursday, June 23. Dozens of itinerant teachers and mobility specialists stopped by our area to try their skill at audio darts. Most welcomed the challenge of throwing with their eyes closed, and many actually scored on every dart. Special thanks to Sherri Crum, Sue Lichtenfels, Gene Barton, and Darlene Barton for their assistance with this endeavor.

Annual Chess Competition in the Mountain State
While most of us know Joe Wassermann as the coordinator of the SportsVision Audio Darts Group, he is also an avid chess player. During the weekend of June 23-26, Joe traveled to the Hampton Inn in Buckhannon, WV to compete in the 2005 U.S. Championships for Blind Chess Players. The tournament attracted nine visually impaired competitors from around the country. Although Joe just missed finishing in the money, he enjoyed the competition and is already thinking about travel plans for next year's tournament.

NABB Holds First Annual National Bowling Tournament
The first-ever national tournament of the National Association of Blind Bowlers (NABB) was held at Noble Manor Lanes in Crafton on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26. Approximately 16 sighted, visually impaired, and blind bowlers competed in four events: Singles, Doubles, Quads, and the Super 6. In the Super 6, teams of three bowlers rolled three games each. The two best games for each of the three bowlers added up to make their Super 6 score. Congratulations to Tournament Director Ron Marcase of Houston, PA for a well-run inaugural tournament.

Las Vegas Conventioneers Make History
Fifty-six attendees of the American Council of the Blind’s week-long convention were treated to an unexpected history-making event when the Riviera Hotel and Casino organized the first-ever Texas Hold‘em Tournament for the Visually Impaired. While poker tournaments in Las Vegas are not unusual, this one required special authorization from the Nevada Gaming Commission as the cards would be marked {Braille and large type}. Pittsburgh’s own Bob Lichtenfels entered the event and made it to the second table. Each registrant paid $30 and began with $1500 in chips. Nine finalists received prize money ranging from $50-$400. The Riviera’s organizers were so impressed with the tournament’s success that they have genuinely offered to hold this tournament every year just prior to the World Series of Poker.

 

 

 


SportsVision
PO Box 23053 | Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412.429.1996 | Email: info@mysportsvision.org
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