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All-Star Games Add Spark to Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament

Posted February 24, 2016  Goalball

By: Jessica Kusku, Tournament Director

Sixteen men’s teams and nine women’s teams traveled to Warren, Mich. to compete in the 32nd annual USABA Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament, Feb. 20-21. The tournament, hosted by the Michigan Blind Athletic Association, is one of the largest goalball tournaments in the country.

The tournament kicked off Saturday morning with round robin play. Teams were split into four men’s pools and two women’s pools. Only the top eight men’s teams would make it to the quarter-finals. South Florida Crossfire, Nova Scotia, Crown, and Quebec outplayed the competition and made it to the men’s medal games. On the other side of the tournament, four women’s teams came out of round robin play to qualify for semi-final and medal games on Sunday: Turnstone Flyers, Nova Scotia Storm, Quebec, and California Shock.

Sunday morning brought 4 rounds of games that showcased some of the best play of the tournament. In the end, both Nova Scotia teams earned GOLD, with the men’s Nova Scotia team finishing first for the 3rd year in a row. SILVER medal winners were South Florida Crossfire (m) and Turnstone Flyers (w), and BRONZE medal winners were Crown (m) and Quebec (w).

Following the medal ceremony, athletes competed in an All-Star game. The All-Star game tradition began in 2012 when the Midwest Regional Tournament moved from Kalamazoo, Mich. to Warren. Players and coaches vote on top players and coaches in the men’s and women’s tournaments to compete in a fun game showcasing skill, tricks, and comedy.

This year the women’s All-Star game featured player Amanda Dennis, Arcelia Torres, Calliandra Bowman-Tomlinson, Bryanna Stubbert, Christella Garcia, Jill Ogden, Kassandra Hernandez, and coaches Heather Bowman-Tomlinson and Kelly Romano. The women continued the tradition of playing exhibition style goalball, showing off trick throws, playing with two balls at once, and generally ignoring the rules of the game while having a lot of fun. The game was called in favor of George Kusku, 2-year-old-son of tournament director, Jessica Kusku, who ran out onto the court during the game, scoring two goals for Romano’s team.

The men’s All-Star game broke the “goofball play” tradition by featuring a serious exhibition of speed and skill between Paralympians and Paralympic-hopefuls. Teams were split into native-born Michiganders, and those not born in Michigan. Tyler Merren, John Kusku, and Joseph Hamilton were coached by Michiganders Jessica Kusku and Mason Neff. Daryl Walker, Grej Pesjaka, and Abel Del Toro were coached by non-Michigander Matthew Boyle. The game ended in a tie (2-2) and the crowd demanded a shoot-out. The Homegrown Michigan team won the shoot-out and game with a final score of 4-2.

Final standings from the 2016 Midwest Regional Goalball Tournament:


1.       Nova Scotia Storm
2.       Turnstone Flyers
3.       Quebec
4.       California Shock
5.       South Florida Surge
6.       BSO Phever
7.       New York Lady Lions
8.       Michigan Livewire
9.       DC Warriors


1.       Nova Scotia
2.       South Florida Cross Fire
3.       California Crown
4.       British Columbia
5.       Michigan Omega
6.       Quebec
7.       Atlanta Force
8.       Florida
9.       New York Knights
10.     New Jersey Thunder
11.     GLSA Riptide
12.     MWABA Eagles
13.     Turnstone Flyers
14.     Tennessee Tornados
15.     Cincinnati Lions
16.     Memphis Warriors