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Deaf Athletes

"Deaf Athletes" like Deaf golfer, “Kevin Hall” are amazing in their ability to play, “The Game”. Yet, there are many untold stories of Deaf people who are outstanding in their sport. Share your story about Deaf Athletes past and present below!

27 Comments to Deaf Athletes:

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Krista Tudisco on Monday, April 03, 2017 7:57 PM
As I researched Deaf athletes, I came across a young lady named Ashley Fiolek. She is a motocross pro. She won the Women’s Motocross (WMX) Championship in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. These are just a few of the many races Ashley had won before she retired at the age of 20. After reading many articles about Ashley, I chose this article to share (she was 18 at the time) because her parents input in this story sends a strong message. Ashley was born deaf. Her parents attitude toward this fact is quite awesome. For instance, her dad, Jim, talked about when she was younger and switching from an automatic transmission to a manual, people wanted them to install a red light on her bike so she would know when to shift. But they never put an emphasis on the fact that shifting would be harder for her or talked about her limitations. “We didn’t think she had any.” Or when her mom, Roni, talked about the other parents of young rider’s reactions when they learned her daughter was deaf. How those parents “balked at the idea that Jim and Roni would allow their deaf daughter to ride.” Roni’s response, “It’s a dangerous sport. You can be concerned that I’m putting my kid on a motorcycle, but not that I’m putting my deaf kid on a bike.” Ashley’s dad and grandfather were both motocross riders and she was raised with intense safety training. Later, when the doctors asked if they would be interested in cochlear implants, they said no. They believed not only would having the CI’s make this sport more hazardous, but more importantly, “the Fioleks didn’t believe their daughter was broken, so there was no need to fix her.” I applaud this family. The fact that Ashley is deaf is just part of who she is. The Fiolek’s made adjustments as they needed, like learning signed language or moving so their daughter could attend a school for the deaf. But, overall, they raised their daughter without limitations. She was able to reach for the stars and accomplish all she set out achieve. After reading more recent article I can say, she has not slowed down. What an awesome role model Ashley Fiolek is for all girls and boys alike, deaf and hearing.
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kayla brodeur on Thursday, April 06, 2017 10:00 AM
I really enjoyed reading this article. I loved how Fiolek's parents taught their daughter to be fearless, and to never give up. I love that they taught their daughter that she had no limitations and anything was possible, no matter what the circumstances. I think that this article was well worth the read,and very inspiring, and could potentially inspire many other deaf or hearing individuals as well.

cynthia rivera on Thursday, April 06, 2017 1:46 PM
Deaf Athlete William Ellsworth “Dummy Hoy” was a Deaf baseball player who played on differents teams between 1888-1902. He played 1,796 games and had 2,044 hits. When he was three years old he got sick with meningitis,and became mute and deaf. He went to the Ohio state school for the deaf, and graduate as valedictorian. Most of the people think athletes are dumb, they say athletes only know about sports. Hoy demonstrated being Deaf and an athlete wasn’t an impediment to his education or athletics. He was the best student in his graduating class. Hoy is an example of never giving up, and when you want to do something, you can do it, if you work hard. I chose “Dummy” Hoy because I found it very interesting how a deaf person in that era got into a professional team. During that time there was no technology to help a deaf person either, so that's pretty impressive. He demonstrated how brave he was to make it to the major leagues dominated by Hearing people. Also, Hoy shows how smart he was, by create a strategy using signals with the third baseman to help him figure out if his swing was a ball or strike. Historians believed Hoy hit 300 hits using signals. He is an inspiration for Deaf and hearing people as well; reading his story motivates me to he never give up, and follow my dreams. William Ellsworth Hoy | Cincinnati Reds

cynthia rivera on Thursday, April 06, 2017 2:11 PM
Very interesting how a Deaf woman demonstrated her the ability to did motocross. Some people think that is a man sport, and she showed the world a woman-a Deaf woman-can dominate the sport too. I like to learn stories about successful Deaf people, because it reinforces the richness I’m learning about Deaf culture. I think it good that her parents didn’t put the cochlear implant in her, because it made her stronger. Her success as a Deaf woman in motocross demonstrates how being Deaf and woman doesn’t have limitations

Meghan Auclair on Friday, April 07, 2017 6:11 PM
Ashley's parents' reaction was very interesting because I've seen a lot of stories of parents who are devastated and go straight for cochlear implants. Their response about putting their child on a motorbike in the first place deaf or not was hilarious as well.

Ivelianisse Morales on Friday, April 07, 2017 8:23 PM
I read about him too! I found it interesting that it is believed that baseball starting using hand signals because of him. Another point I found interesting was that him being called Dummy wasn't meant as a degradative but descriptive and I'd say even as an endearment. His teammates all seemed to really appreciate him and the great player he was. It is believed he is the first deaf athlete.

Joy on Monday, February 18, 2019 11:24 AM

Kirsten Mattson on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 1:55 PM
For this blog post I knew I wanted to research a deaf athlete from one of my favorite sports, wrestling. I am a huge fan of Matt Hamill who is also a pro wrestler however I know a lot about him so I wanted to pick someone I knew little about. I ended up choosing Louis Long otherwise known as The Silent Warrior. He is a professional wrestler who competed in international promotions, independent circuit and Japanese promotions. He was born in Buffalo NY in 1976. He was born deaf and has a large family. He has seven siblings. One thing that I like about Louis is that he is an all-around athlete. He was co-caption of the varsity track and field, soccer and basketball at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. He was one of the best defensive players in basketball earning him the nickname “Rugged Rebounder”. He also played in the Deaf Athletic Association's annual Soccer Tournament and helped his team win the championship in 1994. Though out his high school career Louis earned four MVP awards, three varsity soccer awards, and the 1995 Independent Athletic Conference All-Star Award. As for his wrestling career he started later in life. He was a ringside photographer and decided to try wrestling in 2003. He started training professionally in 2010. In 2011 he started training under Robbie E who he was with for most of his training. His unmasked (baby face) professional career began in 2010 and just one year later his masked and international career began. In the Philippines (2014) he broke a new record for the number of attendees. The show was sold out, having more than 4,000 come to watch him wrestle. The reason that Louis started wrestling was his grandfather. His grandfather was a huge fan of the sport and actually took him to see the World Wrestling Federation. His grandfather passed away in 2004 but instilled in him the importance of hard work, focus, education, be able to overcome what others think and most importantly a love for wrestling. Louis is also a huge of Matt Hamill an the movie “ The Hammer” based off Matts high school wrestling experiences. Over the years Louis has created the Deaf Wrestling Alliance, is a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club and is a benefactor to the deaf wrestling community. Louis is just one example of how being Deaf isn’t a limitation. It doesn’t matter if you can hear or not it’s all about hard work and dedication.
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Krista Tudisco on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 4:02 PM
Great story Kirsten. Louis sounds like a determined, hardworking guy. His accomplishments are amazing and he must be a force to be reckin' with in the ring. Young and old alike must look to him with admiration because of the example he is. I don't know much about wrestling, but I do know its a very competitive sport and Louis forged a path right to the big league. Good for him! Thanks for sharing.

cynthia rivera on Thursday, April 06, 2017 2:19 PM
I was surprised to find out he was Deaf, because i’ve seen him before and I didn’t have a clue he was Deaf. Amazing to learn more about Deaf people, and how successful they’ve been in everything they do. It is good for Deaf people to continue demonstrating to the world they can do anything like anybody else. With every new story I come across i become more convinced Hearing people need to learn there is no difference between a hearing person and Deaf.

Unnza Butt on Wednesday, April 05, 2017 8:23 PM
Since my favorite sport is Football, I chose to a research a deaf NFL athlete. The first known player with hearing loss in the NFL was Larry Brown (#43), an offensive running back who played for the Washington Redskins. Brown’s famous coach, Vince Lombardi, reportedly first noticed the athlete’s hearing loss in 1969, after observing Brown’s habit of titling his head in one direction when listening to signals being called, walking behind him in drills, and not always reacting when Lombardi would call his name. HE would have a lot of trouble hearing understanding the counts. One day his coach finally talked to the NFL and they made the first ever football helmet which had a hearing aid in it. Ever since he has had a very succesfull career and the browns are focusing on retiring his jersey. he was also named MVP in 1972.
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kayla brodeur on Thursday, April 06, 2017 9:53 AM
I had read the same article on Larry Brown as well. I found it very cool that the NFL came about making the first helmet with a built in hearing aid. I love seeing all of the accommodations made in sports that are very helpful to deaf individuals in order to help them be a better player and a successful one at that.

Krista Tudisco on Thursday, April 06, 2017 10:13 AM
Unnza, this story was interesting because it took place during the oppressed time for deaf people. I can imagine the people, deaf and hearing, he must have inspired. Also, being deaf in one ear and making it as far as he did shows his determination as an athlete. He didn't let anything stop him from fulfilling his career goals. An added bonus was having a great coach with the same determination as James. I did find it interesting that his first thought when he saw the medical professionals approach was being sent to St. Elizabeth Hospital. That just shows what it must have been like during that time for the deaf. Thank you for sharing this article!

Francisco Garcia on Thursday, April 06, 2017 7:38 PM
It’s pretty cool that they had their first ever helmet with a hearing aid installed inside of it. Many athletes don’t pursue their dream career because they feel they won’t accommodate to their needs. Everyone deserves a chance at what they want to do in their life. I think anyone who is Deaf and reads articles about Deaf athletes would be inspired to pursue their career.

Cassidy Richter on Friday, April 07, 2017 10:19 PM
I really enjoyed this article. It's hard enough to play sports such as basketball, football, or even hockey but can you imagine being deaf? That must make it 90% harder. That's a really good coach to be able to go to the NFL and have the first hearing aid helmet made. That must have been a wonderful gift for Larry Brown.

Kayla Brodeur on Thursday, April 06, 2017 9:45 AM
As I began to research Deaf athletes, I found myself looking for a more gym athletic person. I found a guy named James Burke, who was a professional bare- knuckle heavyweight boxing champion from 1833 to 1839. He was from England, where a local bar owner introduced that game to Burke. In 1833, Burke was in a fight that lasted 3 hours and 6 minutes. Burke eventually won, and three days later his opponent died from the injuries caused by Burke. Burke was tried but acquitted of all charges. Burke decided to go to America to continue his career, but eventually moved back to England, where the rules of boxing had changed. Referees were nervous that Burke wouldn't know when to stop after the 10 count rule, so a referee decided to use his hands to signal when time is coming to the end of the 10 count. I love that the hand motions for the 10 count rule is still in effect in today's age. I like that a deaf athlete had a huge impact in the world of boxing, and because of him, the motions of the 10 count rule are still used around the world.
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Francisco Garcia on Thursday, April 06, 2017 7:14 PM
Eugene 'silent' hairston was another professional boxer. He had flashing lights installed in the corners. Which was good because it would notify the refs and themselves when to stop fighting. Maybe having the lights back when James Burke was fighting it would have made it easier for him. I understand how the refs would be nervous when they were using the hand signals.

Meghan Auclair on Friday, April 07, 2017 6:05 PM
I also read some articles about James Burke and found his story interesting. It's amazing to think that wrestling was so brutal back then that he could have been in a fight that long and killed a man. That was a neat piece of information about the hand count still being done today because I was only aware of how the football huddle tied into Deaf history.

Francisco Garcia on Thursday, April 06, 2017 5:47 PM
For this blog post I knew I wanted to research a deaf athlete from one of my favorite sports which is basketball. I decided to write about Lance Allred, he was the first legally deaf basketball player in NBA history because he was born with over 75% hearing loss. He had competed in the 2002 World Deaf Basketball Championship in Athens, Greece. He led team USA to second place. Afterwards he played basketball at the college level and moved to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008. This was actually surprising for me because I didn’t know he was on the Cleveland Cavaliers. He now speaks to students all around the country and holds basketball camps for deaf and hard of hearing teens in Taylorsville, Utah. He has become a popular public speaker. He’s known for “What is Your Polygamy” on TEDx talk. I included the YouTube link below if anyone would like to view it.
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Jordyn Michaelson on Friday, April 07, 2017 12:21 AM
When choosing the athlete I would research for this post, I attempted to find someone who played a sport that I was familiar with. Reason for this was that I wanted to try to grasp the concept of playing that sport without being able to hear well or at all. This, I believe, would help me to better understand the different ways a deaf athlete might have to adjust to that sport, or how other teammates and coaches may have to adjust to them. I chose to look for a volleyball player because I played it throughout high school and I know that it is a very team-centered and communicative sport. I found an article about Olympian David Smith, who became a member of Team USA for men's volleyball in 2009. Smith was born with severe hearing loss, which led to the decision to wear hearing aids for most of his life. The article stated that he does wear his aids during a match, however, they often malfunction due to sweat. This means that for the most part, Smith usually plays without any sense of hearing. Based on what I know about volleyball, it is important to communicate with your teammates in order to confirm who will be the one receiving the ball. In David's case, his teammates say that if he calls the ball, they have no choice but to let him take it because they have no way of being able to call him off since he cannot hear them. He works extra hard so his "disability" does not hinder the team in any way. The article I read seemed to shed more light on David's athleticism rather than his deafness, which was interesting to me. The real challenge for Smith didn't appear to be his deafness, rather his journey to be a great athlete. It really just goes to show how different each deaf person's journey is and the variations of acceptance and embracement that exist within the Deaf Community.
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Meghan Auclair on Friday, April 07, 2017 5:59 PM
I found a deaf athlete named Gertrude Ederle who was a famous swimmer and especially well known in the 1920's. The reason I chose Ederle was that I had heard about her before because what she was able to do was an accomplishment for women, but I had no idea that she was deaf. She was the first women to cross the English Channel and did so in 2 hours less than the fastest male's time, only five of which had crossed it before. The President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, called her "America's Best Girl" and many knew her as "Queen of the Waves." Her team also won three olympic medals in Paris just a couple years before she crossed the channel. After injuring her back she was unable to compete anymore and eventually went on to teach swimming at a school for the deaf. I was surprised to find out that she was deaf because no one had ever mentioned it before when she was discussed. It made me realize that I could know of many other famous deaf people, but have absolutely no idea because it isn't discussed. I also found it so inspiring that during a time when women had so little influence she powered through and was able to complete her goal in life.
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Ivelianisse Morales on Friday, April 07, 2017 8:14 PM
Yes, I have read various articles about her! It actually rubbed me kind of wrong the act that her being deaf is barely mentioned in any article.In the article it mentions that from the age of 5(!!!) she had hearing difficulties and yet in her biography it is only mentioned 3-times and 2 of those are saying she taught at deaf schools, only once does it mention she was deaf and it just says "A hearing problem that had troubled Ederle since her childhood caused her eventual deafness". She broke records and is an inspiration for us all.

Ivelianisse Morales on Friday, April 07, 2017 8:07 PM
(hover over my name for link) I choose Tamika Catchings. What I liked best about this article is that it is her talking about what she has gone through and it's encouraging because just as the title say, hearing loss is not an impairment. I use to think that it was but as I have immersed myself more and more into the community and reading interviews like this I see that it really isn't. She says so herself, she only wears her hearing aids for appearances. She is a completely functional member of society, if not more so. She worked because she knew that the world saw her as having a disability she truly is a great inspiration. "In the classroom kids could make fun of me for being different. [...] eventually [on] the basketball court, they couldn't. I outworked them, plain and simple. Eventually, I was better than them."
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Cassidy Richter on Friday, April 07, 2017 9:54 PM
Wow! That is an amazing story. It is really cool how people who might have a "disability" such as being deaf or having hearing loss, I use that word in quotations because they are not disabled if they are able to do the things they love to do such as sports. They just have to work harder than anybody else. They are real inspirations.

Cassidy Richter on Friday, April 07, 2017 9:35 PM
It is amazing to me how original techniques and formations that we normally see in football get started. I found an article about a deaf athlete named Paul Hubbard who was a quarterback for the Gallaudet University and then later on became a coach at a Kansas State School, another school for the deaf or hard of hearing. In the 1890's, at Gallaudet, Hubbard was the first one to use the huddle, this was used so that the other team could not see what the signing plays were. In the same article I discovered that for snap counts giant drums would be used on the side lines. Players would feel the vibration of the drum. Nowadays, a silent count system is used which is done by touch, such as "a hand to the buttocks." I found this article very interesting and I liked learning how football norms that we see come about. A video was also provided ion this site, a really cute video, but learned some news signs that I did not know and they we're all related to football. *Some information was also found in another article so I'am providing that one too*
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Joy on Monday, February 18, 2019 11:08 AM
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Joy on Monday, February 18, 2019 11:08 AM
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