Ravell Call, Deseret News
MIDVALE — Seventh-grader Cody Phelps chided his peers who had let the opposing team score.
"Don't just sit there, slide!" he yelled.
He could appreciate the main obstacle his classmates faced as they played the game with duct-taped covered goggles. Cody was born with retinoschisis and is nearly blind in one eye with limited vision in the other.
To fulfill a service requirement at Midvale Middle School, where he participates in the International Baccalaureate middle years program, he opted to teach his PE classmates goalball — a sport specifically created for people who are blind.
"I thought I could teach them something about what I do," he said. "When you're blind, it makes you feel really good that there are people out there that care so much that they create games just specifically for you."
Cody taught his classmates the rules of the games Monday, and on Tuesday they donned goggles blacked out with duct tape and gave it a go. Goalball is played with two three-player teams and a ball that has bells inside it. As one team sends the ball rolling toward the other team's goal, defenders listen for the bells and try to block the ball with their bodies.
Kids dove and stretched across the basketball court-turned goalball field. Cody spent more than an hour meticulously taping string to the wood floor to mark boundary lines so players could feel where they were on the court.
Josh Martin hadn't even realized he had scored a goal past the outstretched fingertips of opponents Zelia Chanthasen and Emily Stauffer until players on the bench cheered.
"It's really fun," Zelia said. "It's hard though, you have to rely on your hearing."
Cody was just the right amounts referee and coach, chiding players for colluding, "No conversation during goalball," while also encouraging them, "Be more enthusiastic. You're going to win."
P.E. teacher Lyndsey Pearson had the students huddle following their introduction into the sport, asking them about their experience and what they learned. She told them they could better appreciate their classmate and his talents and strengths even though his sight isn't as clear or focused as theirs.
"Cody lacks that ability, though he makes up for it in other ways," she said.
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