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

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

Players at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside sported black armbands during their Saturday game, a secret code of symbols that matched coach Keith Adams’ frantic signature from the sideline.

CSDR’s opponent, Florida St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, meanwhile brought quarterback Phoenix Lampirth to coach Eric LeFors before every snap, passing plays in a concealed one-on-one huddle. -head.

The disguise was necessary because plays communicated via American Sign Language can be easily stolen when reading from another deaf school.

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

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

“Have you seen how far I’ve gone in the field?” LeFors said after the game smiling.

American football is often defined by absolute noise. So to a hearing person, the competition in CSDR’s 84-8 victory over Florida might have seemed muted – the occasional applause or excited shouts are the only breaks in a veil of silence.

But for CSDR, there’s a unique energy to a deaf versus deaf matchup — layers of challenge and motivation that no game against a hearing school can lay down.

Before the tackle, they met for a different kind of competition.

Surrounded by ping-pong and foosball tables, CSDR and Florida students gathered in a summer camp circle for Friday night fun. 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 is an opportunity for elders to meet, families to reunite, players to develop lasting friendships in a comfortable atmosphere and a common language.

CSDR quarterback Trevin Adams celebrates after scoring a touchdown.

CSDR quarterback Trevin Adams celebrates after scoring a touchdown.

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

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

“We’re enjoying the same language,” quarterback Trevin Adams signed via interpreter Kambrina Clark, “and we’re talking trash.”

Over the years, Southern California’s top soccer programs have all looked out of state to schedule regular season games, providing a more dynamic experience for players. After a storybook 12-1 2021 season, CSDR is trying to do the same, connecting with other deaf schools across the country.

“It’s bragging rights,” Keith Adams said via the performer. “They are rivals. With the hearing teams, they are not really rivals. But with a deaf team, it is more intense, because they know that we can talk to each other.

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

He is co-producing and consulting on one of them – an upcoming Disney+ show about the Cubs’ 2021 season that ended in a loss in the 8-a-side Southern Division Championship Game. Much of the story, Maucere said, will center around the community atmosphere of the school.

“You’ll see a lot of what the house of the deaf is like here,” Maucere said.

That was on display in Saturday’s comeback game, the first time the Cubs have hosted the event in five years.

Children in red makeup sold snacks and raffle tickets at booths lining the dirt entrance. Families mingled behind the bleachers, a blond-haired toddler happily rolling in the dust. At half-time, the players waved from the platforms of vans driving around the edge of the pitch.

A CSDR football player communicates in sign language during a game on Saturday.

A CSDR football player communicates in sign language during a game on Saturday.

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

It was incidental to dominance on the pitch. Trevin Adams fired five touchdowns in the first half, rookie Gio Visco made a Statue of Liberty jump that shocked his sideline, and CSDR knocked out most of his starters early in the second half. -time.

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

CSDR’s final season was defined by the burning motivation to prove themselves against audition schools. Yet, in addition to winning an 8-a-side football division title, the Cubs have another goal this year — to stand out among deaf programs.

“We want to prove that we are the best,” said Trevin Adams.

CSDR soccer players stand along the sideline with their arms locked together ahead of Saturday's game.

CSDR football players stand along the sideline with their arms locked together before Saturday’s game against St. Augustine’s School for the Deaf and Blind in Florida.

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

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