Asya Miller in action during the bronze medal game against Brazil at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.
Each Tuesday leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, which will be held in the summer of 2021, TeamUSA.org will introduce you to an athlete you should know prior to Tokyo – as part of the “Tokyo Tuesday” series. There’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Follow along on social media with the hashtag #TokyoTuesday.
As goalball player Lisa Czechowski does her home workout program, she has a future American Ninja Warrior at her side.
This ninja warrior-to-be, her 6-year-old son Jay, is doing push-ups and mountain climbs and chanting “Go Team USA.”
“I would say, ‘Look, see what I’m doing?” Lisa said. “It’s like ninja training.”
Czechowski is chasing her sixth Paralympic Games as a member of the United States women’s goalball team alongside longtime teammate Asya Miller. Miller, too, has been on the national team since 2000, also with five Paralympic appearances on her resume. And if that weren’t enough, both athletes also formerly competed in track and field at the Games, with Czechowski and Miller winning discus medals in 2000 in different classes. Today, Czechowski and Miller are the only members on the team to have children.
Miller’s son, Ryder, was born July 2, 2011; Jay was born three years later to the day.
Together, they are the “Goalball Bros.”
Czechowski and Miller agree this title means Ryder and Jay have a different, more understanding eye on the disability community.
“I think there are certain prejudices he will never have, because of what he’s been exposed to.” Miller, who has Stargardt disease, said of Ryder. Stargardt is a degenerative eye disorder that starts in childhood or adolescence.
A 2017 research study out of Israel’s Bar Ilan University studied the emotional skills of able-bodied kids of disabled parents and found that children had more empathy than kids of able-bodied parents.
Lisa said she has noticed her son expressing an openness to other blind people.
“Growing up being immersed in the blindness culture has really given him a different perspective on disability,” Czechowski said. “It’s given him an acceptance. He doesn’t think anything different of someone using a guide dog or cane. He just thinks it’s kind of normal, honestly.”