GCC sign language students attend deaf football game

by Meret Patrenos


The hum of the power generators running the lights was audible over the game and the spectators. There was not loud rock ‘n’ roll on the speakers, referees were not talking, and the cheerleaders did not chant.

Cheering and music were not needed at this game, as the home team, and many of their spectators, were deaf. 

Friday, Sept. 26 was Phoenix Day School for the Deaf’s homecoming against Salome High School.

The deaf community is very close, and you’ll begin to see familiar faces when you start going to deaf events.

GCC has many American Sign Language (ASL) classes, and many of which ask that students attend deaf events for the experience.

“Taking part in a ‘deaf experience’ gives us a chance to see not only the culture but also the languauge. Watching other’s speak gives the language more life than you can get in the class room,” ASL student Jennifer Carruthers said at the football game.

ASL is different from English Sign Language. Americans speak differently than people from England, and as Sign Language deveoloped, the two countries developed Sign independantly.

For people learning ASL it can be overwhelming to try and understand long fast conversations with people who are fluent. However, ASL blends very well with football protocol. Coaches and players already incorporate hand signals to one another in football, but when the players, coaches, and some of the refs. communicate with ASL, it seems natural, but much quieter.

When ASL student Randi Figueroa was asked how viewing a deaf athletic event comapred to watching a hearing event, Figueroa said “It’s different because at a regular football game there are cheerleaders, and music, but it’s fun to watch no matter what. Everyone is still there to enjoy the game.”

At half-time PDSD middle school cheer leaders came out to raise spirits and entertain. They did not vocally cheer, but did perform a cheer routine, signed to the beat of a bass drum. The vibrations were felt by the cheerleaders to keep on the beat, and it sent energy through the stands.

Watching the football players complete plays, it was virtually impossible to recognize that they were deaf. The PDSD Roadrunners made some impressive plays but lost to the Salome Frogs 8-56. PDSD has one high school football team which consists of players from the freshman to senior grade. There are also middle school flag football teams.

“Deaf people can play not just football, but also play baseball, softball, and other sports too.” former GCC student Jordan Fingerle said. She is deaf and has taken many classes at GCC, ranging from ASL to boxing.

Learning a new language opens new doors, as well as enhancing job resumes. You also get introduced to new cultures and ideas. ASL is a beautiful language, and the deaf community is very accepting of new signers.

For more information visit http://nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-faq.