NewsAmanda Dennis

Amanda Dennis, U.S. Women Are Ready To Take On The Best Again At Goalball Worlds

by Sean Shapiro

(L-R) liana Mason, Amanda Dennis and Lisa Czechowski compete during the women's goalball preliminary round against Team Brazil at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 25, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.


Amanda Dennis is still young. 
She’s only 28, in the prime of her goalball career, and one of the key athletes to watch at the IBSA Goalball World Championships that started Thursday in Matosinhos, Portugal.
But Dennis is also a veteran of the sport, having been a fixture for Team USA since she was a teenager. Since making her Paralympic debut at the Paralympic Games London 2012, the Peachtree City, Georgia, native has won Paralympic bronze (2016) and silver (2020) medals, to go along with a world title from 2014.
Goalball is a team sport for athletes who are visually impaired. Two teams of three line up in front of goals that span the width of the court, with the object being to throw the ball past your opponent into the opposing net.
Having played goalball since she was introduced as a 7-year-old at a sports education camp, Dennis has embraced what the sport has given her and is now giving back to it on and off the court for her country. 
With goalball, she said, “You got to choose yourself how good you want to be.”
“Your entire life, people will tell you, ‘Use your vision, use your vision,’ and then you play goalball and they take it away basically,” she said, referring to the blackout goggles athletes wear to ensure equity. “It’s an equalized playing field where you are playing with your peers, and you have the decision to be as good or as bad as you want.
“I remember seeing these athletes that went to the Paralympics Games and I said, ‘Wow, I want to be like that someday,’” Dennis continued. “And I always had that dream to represent USA at the Paralympic Games. So now that I’m in that spot and I can motivate others, and I can lead and show people coming into the sport now of what that can lead to.”
The youth national championships for goalball recently named the tournament MVP award after Dennis, recognizing what she’s done for the sport. 
“Honestly I was really surprised, because there are so many really great athletes in goalball, and I still feel really young,” Dennis said. “When they said that to me it was an honor, and it was really cool. I just think of myself as Amanda, nothing else, so it was really shocking to have an award named after me.”

Amanda Dennis competes during the women's goalball semifinals against Team Brazil at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 29, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.


U.S. coach Jake Czechowski has watched Dennis firsthand throughout her career. 
“As a coach you dream of being able to work with elite athletes like Amanda,” Czechowski said. “Amanda has been given nothing, she has earned everything, and to watch her evolve, not only as an athlete, but also as a person, I couldn’t be more proud. Not only on the floor does she expect excellence, but she chooses that in her day-to-day life, too.”
And Dennis has chosen to be quite good at goalball — one of the best in the world, in fact, and these world championships are a chance to build on a legacy that grew at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. 
A goalball game last 24 minutes. In Tokyo, Dennis scored twice in the final 2:28 of the semifinal against Brazil to bring Team USA back from a 2-0 deficit and force overtime and eventually a shootout. The U.S. then won the shootout to advance to the gold-medal match. 
Due to injury Dennis missed the gold-medal match, a loss to Turkey, and while she can’t win a Paralympic gold this week, she can add a second world title and help the U.S. women officially lock up their spot at the Paralympic Games Paris 2024. The top-two teams in Portugal will qualify. The medal rounds are set for Friday Dec. 16.
With that history, Dennis and the Team USA women are the top-ranked team in the world coming into the tournament. That comes with pressure, but also an important perspective. 
“Anytime we come here and teams see the red, white and blue, we know that we’ve got a target on our back,” Czechowski said. “But something we always preach is pressure is privilege, so anytime we have that pressure we know we’ve earned it. That’s how our team looks at it.” 
Dennis and her U.S. teammates have felt comfortable in Portugal throughout training; in fact, Czechowski said the venue “fits Team USA’s style perfectly.”
Dennis expanded on that. 
“So the actual type of flooring is very similar to the Paralympics, where we’ve always done very well,” she said. “It’s also very similar to our training site in Fort Wayne, so this feels like playing at home. We feel ready.”

Sean Shapiro is a sportswriter based in Detroit. He is a freelance contributor for on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.