The 2020 Summer Paralympic Games were slated to begin in just a few days in Sochi, Japan, and GDB grad Matt Simpson fully expected to be there representing Team USA in goalball. In April when Matt was hoping to hear about team rosters, he and the rest of the world got the news that the games would be postponed due to the pandemic. Instead of heading to train with his teammates, Matt joined athletes around the world in putting his training and his plans on hold. Along with the rest of the world, Matt shifted his focus to adapting to life in a pandemic. Fortunately adapting and thriving in the face of unique challenges is something that Matt considers to be one of his strengths.
Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for athletes who are blind or visually impaired. Athletes compete in teams of three and try to throw a ball that contains embedded bells into the opponents' goal. The ball is thrown by hand and athletes rely on ear-hand coordination.
In 2016, Matt was selected to represent the United States in goalball at the Rio games and live at the National Training Center in Ft. Wayne, Indiana with his first guide dog, Lacrosse. It was a welcome new routine for Matt who was used to training solo or with a smaller club team in Washington, DC. Matt fondly recalls Lacrosse’s love of the community and activity at the training center. Although Lacrosse couldn’t join him in Brazil for the games, he loved his job and was a constant source of encouragement and companionship for Matt.
After earning a silver medal in Rio, Matt took two and half years off to attend law school, and in August 2019, Lacrosse was once again by his side when represented Team USA to qualify for the Paralympics at the Pan-American games. “With the postponement of the 2020 games, it’s time to re-set the clock,” Matt insists.
In addition to setting his sights on another medal in 2021, Matt is currently studying for the Virginia State Bar Exam, settling into life as a newlywed, and preparing to be matched with his second guide dog through Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“I like to stay busy,” he jokes. “I’m so grateful that GDB found me such a wonderful match with Lacrosse and that he got to experience so much with me. I can’t wait to meet the guide dog that they match me with next.”
To learn more about how you can help GDB make matches like Matt & Lacrosse, visit Support GDB today.