ESPN E:60, known for telling the best stories in sports, returned for its season premiere last night. ESPN E:60 always has a way of making me shed at least one tear [and usually many more], watching the fight people have and the adversity they overcome, and last night was no different. I only caught the last story, but it was a true inspiration. It covered California’s California School for the Deaf (CSD)’s high-school football team, the CSD Eagles. They saw themselves as underdogs and walked away as heroes.
California has a deaf student population of roughly 17,000 and two schools for the deaf in the state. Fremont is located in Northern California and has nearly 500 students, which I can say is more than I expected, but after seeing the numbers, it really is a small percentage of the total deaf population. Some of these students were born deaf, others lost their hearing later in life, but most started out at public schools where they recounted instances of bullying; this was the first all-deaf environment most of them had ever seen. Lets face it, kids are jerks, they don’t realize what they say impacts people, but in this environment, they were able to shine because they were all seen as equal.
The opponents didn’t think the small deaf school stood a chance, but the Eagles turned their weakness into a strength. The skill at which these students and coaches were able to sign was remarkable; they had a playbook of 150 plays all of which were signed. The Eagles’ communication was on point, allowing them to open their 2014 season 5-0, shutting out opponents 227-0. Then they lost two games and needed to win their last three to make it to the playoffs. And you guessed it, they did [insert said tear]. This is when all of my heart and soul starts rooting for these people, these kids, this team of high schoolers, who were so strong, stronger than I ever was.
They ended their season 8-2 and were on to the playoffs. The few seniors on the team knew this was their last chance to win. In the playoffs, it was back and forth, they were down and then they miraculously scored two touchdowns going into halftime to take the lead. I thought they had it, they had won. And then, the rival scored and the Eagles lost 15-14. That was it, they were out. Just like that. Of course, this happens all the time. You win some, you lose some right. The kids were crushed, but they held their heads high. The win didn’t take away their But what was even more inspiring, was their ability to overpower limitations. They truly felt blessed with the life they were given, as they should be, but there are so many of us who take what we have for granted.
These kids made me want to be better, made me want to appreciate life more; I’ve neverbeenso inspired. I can already tell these kids are destined for greatness. Yes, maybe they had to attend a different school, but look at what it did for their strength and confidence, which was being crushed in the regular schools. I think this is a story adults and kids alike can learn from.
Check the video out on ESPN E:60 here.