On Wednesday, Lisa Odland will graduate with two Dal degrees: Bachelor of Management majoring in Environment, Sustainability, and Society; and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation. But she’ll bring more back home with her to British Columbia than just her dual degree: she also has her love of goalball.
Goalball is Paralympic sport specifically designed for athletes who are blind and visually impaired. The game is played with two teams of three players on the court at any given time. Athletes try to throw the ball — which has bells inside it — past the opposing team’s players and into their net.
Back in 2014, Lisa answered a call for volunteers for the first ever Nova Scotia Open Goalball Tournament. She signed up for a four-hour shift; three years later, she’s had the opportunity to coach teams at national and international tournaments across Canada.
Lisa also completed her Recreation Management internship with the Canadian Blind Sports Association, the recognized national sport organization for goalball.
“I was excited by the opportunity to learn more about the governing of blind sports and to gain experience on an administrative level,” Lisa says about her internship.
Commitment and compassion
Lisa also volunteered as a coach with BC Blind Sports. Between coaching and her internship, she got experience behind the scenes and on the ground: helping organize the 2017 Canadian Senior National Goalball Championships and coaching the BC men’s team in a tournament in Montreal.
One initiative Lisa is proud of is her efforts to get Braille labelling put on the medals and trophies awarded at the sport’s Senior Nationals. “I think it is important that the medals presented are accessible for the athletes,” she says.
Although her internship wrapped up in April, Lisa hopes to continue to work with individuals who are blind and visually impaired. She has been thinking about doing a masters in Orientation and Mobility (O&M), which supports individuals who are blind and visually impaired to use their remaining senses and teaches techniques to travel safely and efficiently throughout their environment.
Looking back at her time at Dal, Lisa has a lot to be proud of. In addition to her newfound passion for goalball, she was the first student to complete a Recreation Management degree with a major in Environment, Sustainability and Society, she spent a semester studying oversees at the University of Bergen in Norway, and she completed four seasons as the team statistician for the Dal Tigers men’s and women’s hockey teams.
“My university experience has taught me to take advantage of opportunities to try new things,” she says, reflecting on her time at Dal. “You never know where they will lead you. There is so much opportunity for personal and professional growth.”
“I had never heard of blind sports before I saw an email with a call for volunteers, and now it is a big part of my life.”
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