Lisa Czechowski

Goalball Gold Medalist

Status

Lisa Czechowski achieved the status of Most Valuable Player at the 2008 U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Goalball Nationals.

She is a Paralympic athlete, silver medalist for discus and a gold medalist for goalball, all of which are achieved statuses.

She is a wife, daughter, and sister, all of which are ascribed statuses.

She was born with nystagmatus, a condition where the eyes move involuntarily. She was later diagnosed with cone dystrophy, which affects her near, far, and central vision, as well as contrast sensitivity and color vision.

Values

One of the things Lisa values most is perseverance and persistence. Despite the lifelong issues she's had with her vision, she did not let that stop her from experimenting with various track and field events in freshman year of high school. She fell in love with shotput and discus, and began the javelin throw in college as well. She continued these activities until she became involved with goalball after being told that she could still participate in track. All of her hard work and dedication led her to being an alternate for the goalball team, and eventually their most valuable player.

Sports as a subculture

Lisa Czechowski plays goalball on the Paralympic team. It was the first ever Paralympic sport designed exclusively for disabled players, namely those with visual impairments. This unites people with similar disabilities and gives the players at least one thing in common. This usually leads to a very close-knit team. Czechowski stated that her team is all "on the same wavelength". Another thing that unites the team is the fact that the game is played in complete silence with blindfolds on, forcing teammates to find new ways to communicate.

Socialization

When Lisa first got involved with goalball and the Paralympics, she had to become socialized to the culture of the Paralympic games. At first, she was wary of the Paralympics because she had been involved in "regular" sports in high school and college. Eventually she was convinced to join the goalball team by a coach, and after being socialized to the game and the players, she learned to love the sport and became one of its most valuable players.

London

The most recent Paralympic games Lisa Czechowski participated in was the 2012 Games in London. Lisa and the rest of the woman's goalball team came in 8th place in London, a large contrast to the gold they won in Beijing in 2008. Despite not placing as high as they did in the games before, Czechowski and team always express their gratitude toward being able to compete and congratulate their opponents on their performance.

Social interaction/competition

Like all sports, goalball has a prominent element of competition. Even though all goalball players have visual impairments and are friendly to one another, competition is still present. Huge competitive events such as the Paralympics increase the competitive spirit with the promise of medals and titles. Some Paralympians have been caught overstating their disabilities to be able to participate or taking performance-enhancing drugs to play better.

Symbolic theory

The Olympics themselves are a very symbolic event. For decades the Olympic Games have served as a way for the countries of the world to come together and show off their finest athletes. It is also a way for countries to indirectly compete against each other through their athletes. The Paralympic games are also symbolic in similar ways. The Paralympics also bring athletes from around the world together, the only difference being that they have some sort of disability. To the athletes, their disabilities could symbolize the struggles in their lives, and their medals and achievements symbolize overcoming those hardships.

Reflection

While researching Lisa Czechowski, goalball, and the Paralympics during this project, I learned many things. I found out how many unique and interesting sports were made specifically for disabled athletes, goalball included. These sports, while difficult on their own like all other Olympic or Paralympic games, add a whole new level of difficulty because of the way the player's disabilities are worked around or with. The amount of work Paralympic athletes put in compared to regular athletes is phenomenal. They have to overcome the struggles of dealing with their disabilities every day, all while being unappreciated by the Olympic games, spectators, and sponsors. If any athletes had to be role models for kids, the Paralympians should fill that role over any others.