The IBSA Goalball World Youth Championships started with the opening ceremonies. It was so neat to see all of these athletes and coaches together. This is the biggest tournament we have ever been too, and it was amazing to see the 11 countries that were being represented. It was amazing to hear the athletes' oath and to hear the games declared open.
Liz was in this big group. You can see her in the bottom right corner of this photo.
And she is about half way down this photo, about 1/3 of the way in from the right.
Here she and her team are leaving, and I snagged a picture of her before we left for the hotel. They got to enjoy dinner with all of the athletes.
There were a few nerves for the first game against Spain, but it was nice to be there early enough to laugh a little and take a few pictures.
It was truly amazing to watch Liz and her team play, and it really took a while to sink in that this was a world stage! Just a really cool experience. USA beat Spain 7-3, and it was great to start off with a win.
Day 2 brought a game with Germany. I love this picture of Liz and her coach. Rachel is one of her coaches here in Utah, and it was wonderful knowing she would be coaching in Budapest. She knows the game and coaches really well.
We ended with a 5-5 tie against Germany. It was a hard fought game.
Day 3 was tough, with losses to Russia and Australia (spoiler alert - Australia ended up taking gold and Russia took silver). It was hard to end pool play with these two tough losses.
But it was on this day that I got a text from Liz telling me she found a piano. She told me that while she was playing, the German boys team had come up and started talking to her, asking about her music and if she had heard some songs. What a cool experience! Piano is always a way for Liz to relax, and have it be an ice breaker to talk with some new people was great!
Day 4 was another tough day, with a loss to Brazil. They were first in the other pool (and ended up taking third in the tournament.) There were some tears, knowing now that they could not medal. We gave hugs and said quick goodbyes. That afternoon I knew Liz had cheered up when her coach texted that she had been playing piano for the South Koreans that afternoon.
Friday would be the last day of the tournament for the USA. There would be two games. We wanted the girls to go out with a great day of play, and if they won both games they would end up fifth for the tournament.
It was a good day of goalball for the USA girls. They seemed more relaxed, they communicated better than they have all week. They had good defense. Things came together nicely. We were excited that they beat South Korea 11-1. They would have one game off, then play in the game for fifth place.
In between games Liz was playing piano again. I got to watch her a little bit. One of the girls from Israel approached, but never seemed to get the courage to actually talk to Liz. Our last game was against Israel. The USA girls did great to pull out the win. But the best moment was after the game. After the teams shook hands Liz and this dark haired girl stayed on the court for quite some time talking animatedly. Liz later told me that she asked, "Are you the piano girl?" and said that they talked for a while about music. It was such a cute moment. I am so glad I had my camera out.
So proud of this girl of mine!
USA girls - 5th place - 2017 World Youth Championships
A picture with some of the members of the team from South Korea. Our girls saw them at the mall.
With teams from Germany and Australia. I loved that Liz got to interact with teens from all over the world!