November 22, 2020
In Episode 25 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we discuss trail orienteering for the blind. Our two guests, Russ Myer and Megan Hale, discussed:
- How Myer got into helping people with disabilities -
- His involvement with World Para Nordic Skiing and International Orienteering Federation
- The Capital Region Nordic Alliance in Albany, NY and its adaptive sports programs for local residents with disabilities
- Hale’s visual impairment and current degree program she is working on at Hudson Valley Community College
- How Hale got into blind sports by attending Camp Abilities events in New York and then joining the track and field teams at her middle school, high school, and college
- Her guide dog, Hero, from Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s Running Guides program
- Myer’s work with Microsoft on the development and beta testing of a more robust version of the Microsoft Soundscape mobile app to be used for trail orienteering
- The various sounds that are used to indicate a trail orienteering competitor’s whereabouts in relation to the virtual beacons within a course
- Hale’s experience with trail orienteering and the differences between using her white cane or being guided by her dog on the course
- Hale’s enjoyment of participating in adaptive sports and how rewarding it is to independently compete in sports as someone with a disability
- What Myer has seen in terms of how positively sports and recreation have impacted the lives of people with disabilities
Learn more about the Capital Region Nordic Alliance in New York at www.capitalregionnordicalliance.org.
Contact Russ Myer directly to learn more about trail orienteering or to get involved by emailing him at email@example.com.
Learn more about the Microsoft Soundscape project at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/product/soundscape/. Download the Soundscape iPhone app at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-soundscape/id1240320677.
November 8, 2020
In Episode 24 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, Fred Nickl of the American Blind Bowling Association is our guest. Nickl discussed:
- - How he suddenly lost his vision from an accident
- Why losing a job actually helped him get into blind bowling
- The adaptations of bowling for the blind and visually impaired
- The history of the American Blind Bowling Association (ABBA)
- The annual national tournament the ABBA puts on and how the locations are selected for these tournaments
- The social aspects of the tournaments like the dance and exploring the locations of each event
- International participation in blind bowling and some unique rules in other countries
Learn more about the American Blind Bowling Association and blind bowling in general at www.abba1951.com.
October 24, 2020
In Episode 23 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, all-around young blind athlete Damian Parra joins host Greg Lindberg to discuss:
- Why he suddenly lost a good amount of vision around age three
- Why his family moved from New York to Seattle to give Damian a better future
- How he got into playing blind sports by attending the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB)
- How he got into goalball and competing in goalball tournaments
- His first national goalball tournament at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) in St. Augustine, FL and an Austin, TX national tournament in 2019
- Getting to play with a goalball team from British Columbia in another tournament thanks to decorated Paralympic goalball athlete Jen Armbruster
- His involvement in the USA Goal Ball Facebook Group and how it has inspired him in many ways
- His advice for being successful at goalball
- How he got into powerlifting and the most he has lifted
- How he got into swimming
- The training programs he has taken from Youth Employment Solutions through the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind
- His career goals and one profession he hopes to attain
October 11, 2020
In Episode 22 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, accomplished blind water sports athlete Scott Leason joined the conversation to talk about:
- Growing up in Newport Beach, CA
- The sports he enjoyed playing growing up
- His seven-year stint in the U.S. Navy and how this military experience shaped him as a young man
- The story of how he lost his vision due to an event that nearly took his life
- Attending the Braille Institute and the Foundation for the Junior Blind to learn independent living skills
- How he was introduced to water sports at the Blind Community Center of San Diego
- Competing in events through the Challenged Athletes Foundation and CAF’s Operation Rebound program for veterans
- His accomplishments in water skiing, surfing, and wakeboarding
- The adaptations of water sports like water skiing, surfing, and wakeboarding
- Competing in Ironman events
- His involvement with the Blind Stokers Club
- How his Apple Watch has been a helpful and accessible tool in his sports and fitness endeavors
- Getting three guide dogs from The Seeing Eye
- The positive impact of being involved in sports as a blind individual
Check out Leason’s Never Lose Sight Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/neverloosesight/
September 26, 2020
In Episode 21 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, Dawn Wells of Angel Eyes Fitness and Nutrition is our guest. Wells, who has dubbed herself “Sista Fitness,” discussed:
- Why she attended 19 schools while growing up
- Serving in the Marine Corps for four years and the Army Reserves for seven years
- How a bulimia diagnosis changed her life for the better and led her into fitness
- How she got into teaching fitness classes, specifically Zumba at first
- An introduction to the blind community when she unexpectedly was invited to teach a Zumba class at an NFB of Georgia state convention in 2014
- What inspired her to start Angel Eyes Fitness and Nutrition in 2017 as a formal nonprofit organization
- The nine programs she offers through the nonprofit
- How she verbally describes her fitness classes and uses methods like the clock face to ensure all participants understand the instructions
- A partnership her organization established to offer free Uber rides for participants in her fitness classes to attend classes on site at locations around the country
- How she got involved in offering free Zoom fitness classes for the American Council of the Blind
- The nutrition programs and meal plans she has developed based on a person’s blood type, thanks to her research on Dr. Peter D’Adamo and his “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” concept
- Why she believes making fitness fun is the key to long-term success and positive results
to learn more about her nonprofit organization and its unique services.
September 12, 2020
In Episode 20 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, blind hockey goalie Doug Goist joined the conversation to talk about:
- His early years and how active he was as a child playing sports
- When he started to notice something was wrong with his vision
- Attending college at Wake Forest University and earning a bachelor’s degree in English
- His work in journalism and as a transcriptionist
- How he unexpectedly got into blind hockey and why he thought his friend was making it up at first
- How blind hockey is played
- The vision classifications of blind hockey players and the positions they typically play based on their levels of vision
- His role on the ice as a goalie
- Playing with the Washington Blind Hockey Club and the U.S. Blind Hockey team
- Competing in the first-ever international blind hockey series of games vs. Canada
- If he thinks blind hockey will get into the Paralympics and what has to happen for this to occur
- Advice for anyone interested in playing blind hockey
- His job with the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and his efforts to help blind individuals land jobs
- Some advice for blind and visually impaired job candidates on what they can do to advocate for themselves during the job search and interview process
Learn more about USA Blind Hockey and the sport of blind hockey at https://www.usahockey.com/blindhockey.
Check out the Washington Blind Hockey Club site at https://dcblindhockey.org/.
August 29, 2020
In Episode 19 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we feature Part 2 of our conversation with Paralympian and fitness guru Tyler Merren. Merren talked about:
- How he and his wife, Leanne, met through goal ball and what parenting is like when both parents are visually impaired
- The audio described fitness videos he has created for the USABA Facebook page during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as the United We Move challenge to get blind individuals more active through the use of a Fitbit
- What inspired him to start ReVision Training, LLC and his goal to create a one-stop subscription service for sports and recreation training content for the blind and visually impaired through a smartphone app
- Why he started a Facebook group and YouTube channel with accessible content for blind and visually impaired athletes or those wanting to get into fitness
- His work as a personal trainer
- His advice of a four-step process for anyone who is blind or low vision and what they can do to start being more physically active and leading a healthier lifestyle
Visit his Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/492112998046718/.
Check out his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEtd0CZcXwymcY2W6oRQX0w.
August 22, 2020
In Episode 18 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we feature Part 1 of our conversation with Paralympic medalist and personal trainer Tyler Merren. In this part of our discussion, Merren spoke about:
- His take on the meaning of a champion, whether it’s in sports or in any other aspect of our lives
- His early years and losing his eyesight as a young teenager
- How his parents first reacted to his vision loss diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa (RP)
- How he was introduced to goal ball at a blind sports clinic at Western Michigan University and how he quickly became good enough to compete nationally and internationally
- Competing in the Paralympic Games and how it feels to walk into a Paralympic stadium sporting the red, white, and blue of Team USA
- His first Paralympics in Athens, Greece in 2004 and what it was like defeating Team Canada in the men’s goal ball bronze medal match, 5-4
- How the goal ball matches are structured and scheduled in the Paralympics
- How goal ball is played and a brief history of the sport
- The keys to being a successful goal ball player
Catch Part 2 of our interview with Tyler Merren in Episode 19 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast.
Check out his website at www.tylermerren.com.
Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tylermerren.
August 8, 2020
In Episode 17 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, host Greg Lindberg is joined by Air Force veteran, author, and yoga enthusiast Marty Klein of Blind Yoga. Klein discussed:
- His pre-blindness childhood and how he was into playing many sports as a boy
- Serving in the U.S. Air Force before having to leave the military due to his visual impairment
- His accomplishments in billiards
- The work he has done in the counseling field spanning 45 years
- How he got interested in yoga
- What inspired him to create the Blind Yoga programs
- His audio-described yoga programs and how they are designed for blind individuals, as well as how they teach a visually impaired person how to advocate for themselves if they are in a yoga class with mainly sighted participants
- The physical and mental benefits of doing yoga for anyone, but especially for people with disabilities or other ongoing challenges
- The books he has written on a variety of blindness topics
- A documentary film he wrote and directed on wounded and disabled military veterans transitioning back into civilian life and the epidemic of veteran suicide
Visit www.blindyoga.net to learn more about and purchase Klein’s Blind Yoga audio yoga programs.
Check out Klein’s six-minute yoga flow with narration at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV2KxhM0Dm8.
Check out the Blind Yoga Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlindYogaMartyKlein/.
Watch his film, Why Can’t We Serve, with captions and audio description by visiting the following link and using the following password: https://vimeo.com/284206434 and the password is Marty2. Learn more about the film at www.whycantweserve.com.
His memoir, Blindsighted: One Man’s Journey from Sight to Insight, is available on BARD. His books can also be found on Amazon.
July 25, 2020
In Episode 16 of the Eyes Free Sports podcast, we caught up with Lex Gillette, one of the top blind track and field athletes in the world and multiple-time beep baseball champion. Gillette discussed:
- How he suddenly lost his vision at age eight
- Attending mainstream schools and then East Carolina University for college
- His successful beep baseball career playing with the West Coast Dawgs
- How he got into track and field
- What adaptations a blind long jumper uses to succeed in this sport and the relationship with his track and field guide
- What life is like at the Paralympic Games both while competing and in the Olympic Village
- Tandem biking with the Blind Stokers Club
- One blind sport he’d really like to try but never has
- How he has dealt with the Paralympic Games being postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- His new book, FLY: Find Your Own Wings and Soar Above Life’s Challenges
- How he made a connection with Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey
- His unique Air Jordan video series on Twitter in which he has raised awareness about how a blind person handles daily tasks
Check out his website where you can also purchase his book at http://www.lexgillette.com.
Follow him on Facebook at