Chris Dodds of Logan lives with a disability – a visual impairment – and continues to compete at an international level in the sport of goalball. However, it was a knee injury last year that threatened his place on the USA national team. Chris was a member of the USA goalball team at the Paralympics in both 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing). “Paralympics are for athletes who have physical disability. We train as hard as you would believe any other Olympic athlete would train for their sport.” Goalball is a sport for the visually impaired and blind. Dodds said it was invented after World War II when a lot of the veterans were going blind. “These were people who were competitive before and wanted to continue with sports. It’s a very unique sport. It’s not an ‘adapted’ sport, so it’s kind of its own beast. It’s a three-on-three competition played on a court about the size of a volleyball court. “We play with a ball about the size of a basketball that has bells inside, it’s a back and forth game. Everybody is blindfolded. We throw the ball back and forth and we’re diving on the court trying to defend the width of the court.” The goals, four feet tall, are set up the whole width end of the court. It’s a big net and Dodds said the balls are coming at 45-50 miles an hour. The court has raised line markings using certain floor tape on the ground. “A lot of us have played it for so long we pretty much have good orientation without the tape, but its there as guide markers so you can swipe your foot across it as you are moving around.” Chris said he got into competitive goalball in 1998, attending his first Junior National Competition. He’s been a member of the USA team since 2000. A fracture to his knee cartilage during training in February, 2010, left his future in the sport uncertain. When cartilage is damaged from a sports injury it can degenerate rapidly. In July Logan Surgeon Bryan C. King of Canyon View Orthopedics performed a new surgical procedure on his knee, applying a living cartilage implant to defects of the surface of the joint. Over time the tissue has healed and regenerated damaged joint cartilage. It was one of the first times the surgery was performed in Utah. Dodds began an extensive (six-month) rehabilitation program at Logan Regional Hospital, following his surgery. “I’ve been very pleased with the procedure,” he said recently. “When I was first cleared to play again my coaches at the U.S. camps were all impressed. I’ve picked up on it again, very well.” He has reclaimed his place on the USA team and will travel to Turkey for a world event in April. Both Chris and his wife Brandy have retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease that causes increasing damage to the retina over time. Chris currently has partial vision while Brandy has no usable vision. He is pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at Utah State University.
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