Interview With 7 Time Paralympian Jen Armbruster

Interview With 7 Time Paralympian Jen Armbruster

She led Team USA to Goalball Gold in 2008 and hopes to repeat this September.
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Last week, I published an article about the amazing and intriguing sport of Goalball. Goalball is played by blind and vision impaired athletes and is featured in the fast approaching Rio Paralympic Games. I reached out to Jen Armbruster for the inside perspective into the sport.

Jennifer Armbruster is a world class Goalball player for Team USA. She has competed in six Paralympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and Rio 2016 will be her seventh and final Games. She is a 2008 Paralympic gold medalist, 11 time National Champion and two time World Champion with USA.

How did you first get involved with adaptive sports and goalball?

Well I was playing basketball, softball, soccer etc. and the summer of 1989 is when I started having vision issues while I was on the softball field, it went one eye at a time and that summer was the summer before my freshman year. So I played volleyball limited as a server only as I could not follow the ball well enough at that point as both eyes were effected at that point. Then basketball season rolled around which was supposed to be my ticket to college. I had only [peripheral] vision in my left eye that was usable. I was still playing competitive basketball and they wrote a story around Thanksgiving time about me being legally blind and still playing B-ball. A local teacher at the school for the blind looked me up in the phone book and asked if I wanted to play Goalball. So my father and I went down to check it out one weekend as the school happened to be in Colorado Springs and we lived right there. I never attended the school for the blind but they gave my father and I a key to the gym and we practiced on weekends as well as my parents bringing me downtown after basketball practice to play with other VI (vision impaired) kids from the school a couple of days a week.

How does the preparation for goalball differ from the preparation for other sports given that it is so unique?

I would say the training as far as physical and mental training is very much the same. The dedication and commitment to training both on and off the court is the same. Some of the specific skills are totally different as you are working on hand-ear coordination versus eye-hand coordination in most sports. Also the communication on the court is totally different then in other sports. You can only communicate at certain times and for the most part it is verbal communication only as we won’t see the eye to eye communication that you see in basketball or other sports when you want a teammate to do something different.

Also the coach/player communication is different as well as they can’t just coach the entire time, just during breaks in play.

You've competed in several Paralympic Games, which was your favorite and why?

This is always a hard one for me. Barcelona is special as it was my first one, but Beijing was magical as it truly was a fairytale. It started when I was elected flag bearer for the opening ceremonies, so to lead team U.S.A. into the Olympic stadium was amazing and very humbling. Then we were in must-win situations towards the end of pool play and then of course semis and finals etc. Two of my teammates and I who had been together since the 2000 games played every minute of the last 5 matches, culminating in the gold medal match against China where we came out on top 6-5 and got to hear our national anthem being played and our flag being raised. It was incredible especially after coming up short in Athens four years before finishing with the Silver and 5 of the 6 of us were returning from the 2004 games.


What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming Rio Paralympics?

I think mostly our team wants to defend our World Championship title from 2014 and also have a better showing then we did in London. Again four of us are returning from London and we would like to medal and redeem ourselves a bit. Also it is the last games for three of us it looks like who have been together since 2000.

Through the past few months I've noticed how tight knit the adaptive sports community is both online and at events. How has the adaptive sports community helped you along the way to your accomplishments and on to some of the biggest stages in goalball?

There is a huge support group out there with shared experiences both at the different level of competition for sure. Also it is the area in which I work and volunteer. I have been in the world of adaptive/inclusive rec and sport not only as an athlete but as a coach and mentor as well as a professional. I have been working in the field since 2000.

In the same way, what steps do you think the adaptive sports community and goalball communities need to take in order to grow?

Well I think just getting more coverage of Paralympic sport is huge. There are still a lot of folks out there that just don’t know about it at all. I think increase coverage is huge for not only the competitive athlete but by increasing coverage then more folks know about opportunities that exist for their kids, brothers, sisters, parents etc. Therefore getting folks active in general and just living a healthy active lifestyle is huge.

I also think for example goalball, wheelchair basketball, etc. are just sports, so invite folks to play and compete with us.

For example I run a college tournament for Goalball and both sighted and blind play. We just see it as a sport. I cannot ask for equal access to gyms and P.E. at the same time excluding folks from my sport. So again I’m a big fan of including folks especially in our sport of goalball. It is a small population of folks that play and often there are not the numbers for teams, so why can’t your friend, brother or sister play with you? It just makes sense to me.


Huge thanks to Jen Armbruster for lending her knowledge and perspective into this amazing sport. I think this will give people a deeper understanding of what they will see this September and on a greater scale in the future.

I will comment in this (and all my other articles) when schedules and livestreams become available for the Rio Paralympic Games!




Cover Image Credit: Guang Niu

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They might've had you goin' for a hot second, but you know better now.
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There’s no use in even frontin’; we’ve all been there. You know he’s a f*ckboy from the beginning, but you’re interested in pursuing him anyway. Ain't no thang; I fully support you.

You tell yourself you won’t fall for his games or lies because you’ve been through it all so many times before. Yet, time and time again, you find yourself slippin’ for a hot second, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt until he inevitably disappoints you. Here are the top seven lies you’ve heard from f*ckboys that get you heated every time.

1. You’re the only girl I’m talking to/sleeping with


HAHAHA. OK, first, I don't actually care what (or who) you're doing in your spare time because you're definitely not the only guy I'm seeing either. I'm just asking so I know you're clean, OK? I don't need more stress in my life.

2. I know how to treat girls right

Isn't it super ironic how the WORST f*ckboys are the ones to toss this line?

3. I’ll text you

This statement is so unbelievable that on the off chance that they do actually text you, you basically fall out of your chair in shock.

4. I’m gonna give it to you good

I cry/cringe/die of laughter every time I hear this one because it's always the mediocre ones that throw this line. None of my most memorable hookups have ever said this because their actions clearly speak for them. Mediocre boys, TAKE NOTE.

5. Damn, I wanted to see you though

Well, you were supposed to, but then you clearly had other plans in mind. So the desire wasn’t all that intense, obviously.

6. Yeah, she and I broke up

CLASSIC LIE. CLASSIC. Sure, I believed it the first couple of times, but don’t even try that sh*t with me after I see she’s still blowin’ up your line.

7. *No response for hours after making plans* Damn, sorry I fell asleep


Honestly, how many times are you gonna throw that line when you’re literally viewable on Snap Map. BOY, I see you at someone else’s house. Stop frontin’, there’s no point.


Again, don't ask me why we put up with this sh*t because the mystery remains. I guess in our own sick, twisted ways, we crave the dramatics and thrills that come from their f*ckery. Whatever the reason, though, at least we've got some ~fun~ stories to tell.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube | I'm Shmacked

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Did The NFL Just Make Kneeling A Bigger Crime Than Domestic Violence?

I'm pretty sure hitting your wife is more deplorable than taking a knee during the National Anthem.
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Since the election of President Trump, NFL players have been the face of controversy. With players refusing to stand for the National Anthem, instead choosing to kneel as an act of protest, many people were not afraid to speak out against them.

Recently, the NFL announced that players present on the field during the singing of the National Anthem would be required to stand lest their team be willing to pay a fine.

Now you can have your opinion on whether or not that's just or whether or not that is the NFL politically leaning one way or there other. Frankly, that's not my issue here.

My problem is that players who are convicted of domestic abuse are only suspended for six games upon their first offense.

It seems to me that the NFL found the need to prioritize what qualifies as freedom of speech over the quality of human life.

The NFL's policy is a slap in the face to all of the wives, girlfriends, significant others, one night stands, and all other women who have fallen victim to domestic abuse by the professional athletes who were their partners. It's bad enough that the trauma they faced was only worth a six-game suspension. Now there's an actual price tag on kneeling, while these women continue to suffer in silence.

I have my opinions on the NFL's decision to start doling out this fine. But that's not what this article is about. This article is about giving a voice to victims of abuse. This article is about pointing out that our political quarrels are being put before conversations about the safety of actual human beings.

No one is being physically harmed when an athlete chooses to kneel.

You can call them disrespectful. You can call them privileged. But those men are not beating their wives and girlfriends.

The men on the field who abused those they supposedly love are standing tall while the Anthem is sung, and that's all people see. They don't see the man who took away a woman's innocence, pride, and drive.

People choose to see an act of political defiance as more offensive than a man hitting his wife.

The NFL will probably never see these words.

But someone will. And someone probably have something to say about how these are "two completely different arguments" and that we "shouldn't compare them."

Someone else will probably say something about how there are men and women fighting overseas for our freedom, and that these teams should be fined because their players are disrespecting the honor of those men and women.

I think those men and women are probably more disgusted by the fact that we continue to glorify men who intentionally hurt their significant others, just because they're good at throwing a ball and running up and down the field.

While the Constitution gives each and every one of us the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, religion, press, peaceable assembly, and petitioning the government, nowhere does it give us the right to physically harm another person. I think it's time the NFL took note of that.

There should be no policy of a "first offense" when it comes to domestic violence. I won't support an organization that fines its members for kneeling, but doesn't do more than bench them when they abuse another human being.

Ray Rice received a two-game suspension in 2014 for hitting his fiance. Colin Kaepernick knelt and then used his platform to become an advocate.

But Kaepernick's the villain here, right?

Really think about it before you answer that question. And maybe then take a page out of Kaepernick's book and use whatever platform you have to fight for the women who lost everything because powerful men beat the fight out of them.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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