Goalballer going to London games

Ashlie Andrews, who calls Penticton her home-town, has been selected to join Canada's national team going to the 2012 Paralympics.

A young woman who calls Penticton her home-town has been picked to join the national team competing at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Ashlie Andrews, 19, was picked for the national goalball team that will be playing in the Aug. 29 to Sept. 9 games. Andrews, who was born legally blind, can’t wait to go to London.

“It’s great, just getting the experience to compete for Canada,” said Andrews.

Goalball is a sport for the visually impaired where the athletes play three-on-three and attempt to roll a ball into nets on the opponent’s side of the court. The defenders track the ball, which is full of bells, by sound, and block the shots with their bodies.

Andrews got her start playing goalball when she was seven years old when one of her teachers suggested it to her. Since then, Andrews has been working her way up the ladder of competitive goalball, playing on the provincial, junior national and now the national team.

Andrews played in the World Youth Games, placing third in 2009 and fourth in 2011, and the Junior Worlds in 2009, where her team received a bronze medal. Also, in 2011, she went on with her team to take gold at the Junior Nationals.

Her experience with elite goalball is needed for the national team, which has a strong record, winning gold at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympics and the World Championships in 2006.

Andrews, who now lives in Vancouver for school, recently moved to Ottawa in order to train with the rest of the goalball team. The team’s high-preformance head coach Janice Dawson said the training regimen the team is taking on leading up to the games is quite strenuous.

“We’re training goalball five times a week, we’re adding in martial arts, yoga, sports psych, and just a few different things to complement our training, like obviously cardio and strength conditioning as well,” she said.

Dawson said the team this year would be looking to replicate their past successes on the international stage.

“We do have a history of good results, so we want to contine that tradition and we’ve been training hard, the centralization is making a big difference for us to getting us to work on teamwork and communication,” she added. “We’re really coming together.”