When I saw an article about the California School for the Deaf’s football program on the front page of the Tribune I was lightweight juiced. And then when I saw that Sports Illustrated did a mini documentary on them I was thrilled that an even wider audience was being schooled on the extraordinary young people at CSD. I have gotten a chance to coach against them in basketball and baseball the last three years and am increasingly amazed at how they continue to surprise us “normal” people every game.
Two years ago, when I was the head JV Basketball coach at Bentley High School, I told my boys not to take CSD lightly as we drove down to Fremont. I had been exposed to them the year before and knew that if our team treated them as kids with a disability they would clean the court with us. My kids laughed it off and dismissed my advice. Two hours later they loaded back into the caravan of cars and took the long drive back to Lafayette after being beaten by 20+ points.
It’s a good lesson for all of us to remember. Someone may not be able to hear you but that doesn’t mean they lack athletic ability or any other form of prowess. In fact, CSD players will often play up their disability during a game. I have heard several stories of CSD kids wandering off bases and making random noises while the other team stares in shock. Before they know it the Eagles have stolen a base off them and are laughing all the way to the bank.
The Sports Illustrated mini-doc below gets to the heart of these kids and coaches who are eager to show the world that they can compete with anyone… That they are not defined by their disability, but rather by the hard work they put in to triumph despite their disability. You have to admit, the Bay loves a good underdog, and these amazing young people fit the bill. Salute!