Lisa Czechowski (née Banta) was born with visual impairment and diagnosed with nystagmus, involuntary movement of her eyes. Later, when she was in middle school, it was discovered that Lisa also had cone dystrophy. Having both conditions, her near and far vision are affected, as well as her central vision, and she has no color vision and is extremely contrast sensitive.
Despite her eye conditions, Lisa got involved in competitive high school athletics as a freshman. She tried various track and field events until discovering her strength in shotput and discus.
Because she was so involved with mainstream athletics, Lisa was very hesitant when she learned about goalball. After some convincing by an adaptive physical education teacher, she finally attended her first goalball practice in October of 1995. She was immediately hooked, and she competed in both goalball and athletics for the next six years.
She had a successful collegiate career and won medals at international competitions in discus, shotput, and javelin, including a silver medal in discus at the Sydney Paralympic Games.
At the same time, within a year of starting the sport, Lisa earned a spot as an alternate on the women’s goalball team for the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta. In 1998, she was selected to the goalball national team that attended the IBSA World Championships in Madrid, Spain.
Finally, in 2001, she decided to focus on goalball. The women’s goalball team was very successful in the Paralympics that followed, taking silver in 2004 and gold in 2008. She tells MEDAL QUEST that she thinks it’s a real advantage that her teammates and she have played together so long: “You get on the same wavelength.”
Czechowski has been recognized as a major contributor to her sport, winning “top scorer of the championships” at the International Blind Sports Federation’s World Championships in 2002 and “most valuable player” at the 2008 U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Goalball Nationals. She participated in the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and appeared in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” in October 2002. More recently, Lisa helped the team win the gold medal at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara.
Off the court, Lisa is a programs coordinator at the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired.
Lisa blogs for MEDAL QUEST in April and May. Her postings on the MEDAL QUEST social media pages will be her first time on Facebook!Back To Athletes