Goalball: The turbulent but successful Road to Paris of Calahan Young
Date: November 25, 2023
The USA men’s Goalball national team’s celebration was as effusive as well-deserved. The guaranteed presence in the final of the Para PanAmerican Games – Santiago 2023 meant the direct qualification to Paris 2024 just because Brazil was already qualified for being the current World Champion.
Calahan Young, 28, captain of the USA team and one of the most important players in the squad managed by Keith Young, knows that the qualification was achieved exactly on the last chance they got.
“It has been a turbulent ride, that’s right! We were getting ready for the World Championship last year, in Portugal, when I hurt a disc in my back and got surgery. I spent a significant portion of this time in recovery, until last May. We went to Birmingham for the 2023 IBSA World Games, and we didn’t produce in these two major competitions what we knew we could and should. We had a serious talk among ourselves, debating what and where we are and our values. Our biggest thing was: no penalties. In Santiago, we manage to cut our penalties by 90% easily. The whole team got in the spirit!”, started Calahan.
Paris 2024 will be the second Paralympic Games for the tallest player of the team, looking like a lighthouse to all the squad, not only in height but also in leadership.
“We have a lot to prove in Paris. We were 4th in Tokyo, and anything can happen. Doing better means a medal, but I can assure you that we always compete to win. We may not always achieve medals in tournaments, but we go to every competition with gold in our minds. That is our mentality and all that we desire! That goal is what our country demands from us and for which we get funding. Gold is the only way up!”
Calahan Young is a consultant at a consulting firm based in Chicago, Illinois, that helps minority groups and small companies get funds from the federal government to support their businesses to get started and families to get home. Originally, he is from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Goalball came into his life through Wendy Fagan Sports Camp.
Cathy Patterson’s homage
“It was one and a half hours north from where I lived, and God bless my mom because she drove every Sunday way and back for five years, and I couldn’t be where I am without her. Definitely! Some words too for my brother and sister, and, of course, for my girlfriend, Eliana Mason, from the women’s Goalball USA team. I was born with retinitis pigmentosa, so my vision started to get worse and worse. When I was a kid, I played every sport in the summer, from American football to basketball to baseball, and as soon as I started to lose my vision, I missed the team atmosphere. Sport can be so frustrating sometimes, but I love it so much. There is so much going on that I found in Goalball what I was always looking for to get it again! I love so much our community; there is such a wonderful spirit there, and as more as I was involved in the international competition, it became my number one passion.”
With those words, one last question: what does Goalball mean for Calahan?
“That is a great question! [moment of thought] It’s definitely my escape. Every time we go to the field of play, everybody is equal. We have the same opportunities to compete with people who have the same condition, and it’s a great chance for me to be on the same page and on the same level as everyone else!”