As the volunteer head goalball coach for the organization’s men’s, women’s, junior boys, junior girls, youth and its mixed rec teams, Mac Rae Triff devotes many hours each week to her passion. She was nominated by Peter Parsons, chairman of the Blind Sports Nova Scotia board.
This is in addition to volunteering on the board, fundraising, and organizing and attending tournaments with her teams throughout Canada and the U.S.
“My boys, now grown, participated in a lot of sports over the years. They were able to compete at various levels, make friends, and travel. I feel that this is an opportunity that should be available to everyone, no matter what,” Mac Rae Triff said.
“Seeing these adults and youths enjoying activities that other people take for granted is very rewarding. Both my boys have helped with blind sports since they were very young. They have no doubts about the abilities of people with a visual impairment. It would be great if the rest of the world realized it.”
MacRae Triff, who possesses a degree in physical education, first learned about goalball in 1977 when she lived and volunteered in New Brunswick.
“It’s fast paced, and sighted people can join in the game. I play it,” she said.
“We are always trying to get people to let us play basketball, to let us adapt it so we can play. This is a game that we play and you can join us. We just put a blindfold on you.”
Described as a “fast-paced and fun team sport” designed for but not exclusive to blind and visually impaired athletes, goalball is played internationally and is an official Paralympic Games sport.
Participants all wear eyeshades and compete in teams, trying to throw a ball into the opponents’ goal. The ball has bells inside of it so participants can hear the ball’s approach.
“Many blind people haven’t experienced a team sport, especially if they are totally blind,” MacRae Triff said.
“To see them enjoy the socialization, the improvement, to see these kids who’ve never played before come together as a team, and learn things. That’s just awesome.”
This past weekend, MacRae Triff was in Brantford, Ontario with a girls and a boys team for junior nationals. The weekend of April 21-23, she’ll accompany the Nova Scotia men’s and women’s teams to senior goalball nationals in Vancouver.
The senior men’s team are defending national champions.
MacRae Triff said she was reluctant to take any credit for her volunteerism.
“It’s a totally volunteer organization and there are so many people helping, and I’m just one,” she said.
“All I have done is to help the organization to grow. Peter Parsons is another individual who puts a lot of effort and enthusiasm into our programs.”