Silent cheerleaders

California School for the Deaf’s cheerleading team made the USA High School Spirit Nationals. They didn’t win. But that was OK. They took their loss as a sign that they’d been judged like everyone else. Here’s the San Jose Mercury News story:

They danced. They twirled. They leaped. They counted the beats in their heads and relied on visual cues to stay in sync with the music. They held up three posters: C-S-D! instead of shouting the name of their school.

That’s when the audience rose from their seats, rooting along with the squad — a cheerleader’s ultimate raison d’etre. The teens couldn’t hear the shouts. But they saw from the audience’s throats and open mouths that they were making sounds. Everyone noticed the standing ovation.

The judges admired their enthusiasm and energy but said the deaf cheerleaders needed to improve their execution and choreography.

Shock was the first reaction when the judge announced that the Fremont school didn’t make the finals. The cheerleaders looked at each other in disbelief, stunned. They asked their coaches, who were interpreting the results, to repeat in sign language what the judge said.

But after a few moments relief set in.

(Erin) Ross put it this way: “I felt OK. I felt this was true. That no one pitied us.”

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  1. Mad Scientist says:

    Now that’s a class act! Good luck to them in the future.

  2. I think it is cool that they were allowed to compete and to compete fairly. I don’t understand the current trend to try and make results equal instead of opportunities equal. As an example, when students are able to get more time on an exam because of ADA that should be reflected on the transcript. For many, if not most jobs, the amount of time it takes to complete a task is very relevant.

  3. dhanson says:

    Hooray for the cheerleading team and for everyone involved in the competition for providing a fair opportunity and honest evaluation.

    I work for a successful company started by deaf individuals. Most of the people I work with are deaf. I’ve never seen any evidence of anyone I’ve worked with wanting any special privileges or relaxed standards.

    “We can do everything but hear” is a popular saying in the deaf community. Like these cheerleaders, the deaf people I know want nothing more than the opportunity to do their best and be judged on the quality of their accomplishments.

  4. JimInNOVA says:

    The deaf individuals I work with have a special name for me. It’s unfortunate for them that I understood it. =D Seriously, did you know how easy it is to harass people with sign language? The first letter of my name becomes “ugly” faster than I could blink.

  5. greeneyeshade says:

    did JiminNOVA ever hear about luther ‘dummy’ taylor, who pitched for the ny giants at the turn of the 20th century? according to a story i thought i read in lawrence ritter’s ‘the glory of their times’ but haven’t been able to find, taylor would ride with his teammates on the elevated line to the polo grounds, spell out the ads along the way and get irritated when the teammates wouldn’t join in; and, as u probably guessed, he also used sign language to vent when he didn’t like the umpire’s call. until the day the home plate ump called time and walked toward the mound, signing ‘c-a-l-l m-e t-h-a-t a-g-a-i-n a-n-d y-o-u’-r-e o-u-t o-f h-e-r-e.’