CSDR wants to prove itself as best deaf football team in country

It’s a silent war. A battle of deception. A game of long-awaited open communication – but some had to be hidden.

Players from Riverside’s California School for the Deaf wore black armbands during Saturday’s game, a secret code of symbols that matched coach Keith Adams’ frantic signing from the sidelines.

CSDR opponents, the Florida St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, meanwhile brought quarterback Phoenix Lambirth to coach Eric LeFors before each snap and transferred plays in a blind tackle.

The camouflage was necessary because plays communicated via American Sign Language can easily be stolen if you play another school for the deaf.

CSDR football coach Keith Adams communicates with his players in sign language during a game.

CSDR football coach Keith Adams communicates in sign language with his players during their game on Saturday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“Did you see how far I went on the field?” LeFors said after the game and grinned.

American football is often defined by sheer noise. To a hearing person, the competition in CSDR’s 84-8 win over Florida might have seemed muted – the occasional clapping or excited yelling being the only interruptions in a veil of silence.

But for CSDR, there’s a unique energy in a deaf vs. deaf match – challenge and motivation that no match against a hearing school can match.

Before the duel, they met for another competition.

Surrounded by ping-pong and foosball, students from CSDR and Florida gathered in a summer camp circle for fun on Friday night. They played musical chairs. Duck Duck Goose. four corners

The deaf community across the country is small, said CSDR athletic director Jeremiah Valencia. When communities meet, it’s a chance for alumni to meet, families reunite, players to develop lasting friendships in a comfortable atmosphere with a shared language.

CSDR quarterback Trevin Adams celebrates after a touchdown.

CSDR quarterback Trevin Adams celebrates after a touchdown.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Saturday’s game marked three straight games against deaf schools for CSDR, the most in a single year in the school’s history, Valencia said. The ability to share information and communicate fully has given his players increased energy to go into games against deaf programs, CSDR coach Keith Adams said. The funniest item?

“We use the same language,” senior quarterback Trevin Adams signed through interpreter Kambrina Clark, “and we talk trash.”

Over the years, Southern California’s top soccer programs have all looked out of state to schedule regular-season games to provide players with a more dynamic experience. After a picture-perfect 12-1 2021 season, CSDR is looking to do the same and connect with other deaf schools across the country.

“It’s boasting,” Keith Adams said through an interpreter. “These are competitors. With the listening teams, they’re not really rivals. But with a deaf team it’s more intense because they know we can talk to each other.”

After years of futility, everyone now wants a story about the CSDR program, said alumnus John Maucere.

He’s a co-producer and consultant on one of them – an upcoming Disney+ show about the Cubs’ 2021 season, which ended in defeat in the Southern Section 8-man championship game. Much of the story, Maucere said, will focus on the community atmosphere of the school.

“You’re going to see a lot of what the deaf shelter is here,” Maucere said.

That was on full display at Saturday’s homecoming game, the first time the Cubs have held the event in five years.

Red-faced children sold snacks and raffle tickets from stalls lining the grimy entrance. Families mingled behind the stands, a blond toddler happily rolling in the dust. At half-time, the players waved from the pickup trucks that drove along the edge of the field.

CSDR football players communicate in sign language during a game on Saturday.

CSDR football players communicate in sign language during a game on Saturday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

It was an aid to dominance on the field. Trevin Adams fired five touchdowns in the first half, freshman Gio Visco made a jump after the Statue of Liberty that sent his touchline into shock, and CSDR took out most of its starters early in the second half.

“I’m really at a loss for words,” LeFors said after the game. “They can run, they can throw. They have that country boy feeling.”

CSDR’s final season was marked by a burning motivation to prove themselves against listening schools. But in addition to winning an 8-man football division title, the Cubs have another goal this year — to stand alone among the deaf programs.

“We want to prove we’re the best,” said Trevin Adams.

CSDR football players stand on the sidelines with their arms crossed before Saturday's game.

CSDR football players stand on the sidelines with their arms crossed before Saturday’s game against the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind in Florida.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

https://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/story/2022-09-25/california-school-for-the-deaf-riverside-best-deaf-football-team-in-country CSDR wants to prove itself as best deaf football team in country

Emma Bowman

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