(6-16-21) In 2016, a co-worker invited Mindy Cook to a goalball practice at the Ohio State School for the Blind. She attended her first goalball tournament in Michigan as a pool player in 2017 and fell in love with the sport and the goalball community at that tournament and has been playing ever since.

Cook is the lone Paralympic rookie on the U.S. women’s goalboal roster and will compete in Tokoyo this summer during the Paralympic Games.

The Columbus native and Ohio State graduate began her Team USA career at two tournaments in 2019: the Vancouver Grand Slam (where she played with current Paralympic teammates Lisa Czechowski, Amanda Dennis, Eliana Mason and Asya Miller on the USA Red team that captured gold) and the War on the Floor.

Mindy was diagnosed with aniridia, a rare genetic condition in which the iris does not develop in the eye.

She is the daughter of Bill and Jill Cook of Celina.

What is Goalball?

Goalball is the most popular team sport for the blind and visually impaired. The sport originated in 1946 when Austrian Hanz Lorrenzen and German Sett Reindle developed the game as a way to keep blinded WWII veterans physically active. Goalball has since become the premier team sport for blind athletes and is played competitively in 112 countries.

How Do You Play?

In goalball, two teams of three players each face each other across a court that is nine meters wide and 18 meters long. The object of the game is to roll a basketball size ball with bells inside over the opponent’s goal line. Your opponents listen for the oncoming ball and attempt to block it with their bodies. Once they are able to stop the ball and take control of it, they become the offensive team.

The Court and Rules

The player’s zone is marked at either end of the court by taping a heavy string down to the court for the players to feel with their hands or feet. The player zone is 3 meters deep and extends the width of the court. Each player zone has three orientation lines which the players use to line themselves up and maintain their orientation to the court. Three meters in front of the player’s zone, is the highball line. The goalball must touch the floor at least once before crossing this line or a penalty is given by an official. Other common penalties include holding the ball too long, one player throwing too many times consecutively and touching your eyeshade without permission from an official. When a penalty occurs, the guilty player must defend the entire court by himself. The game consists of two 12-minute halves and takes about an hour to play a full game.