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.”