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January 30, 2003

Deaf cheer squad's message speaks louder than words

From: KESQ, CA - 30 Jan 2003


If actions speak louder than words, one cheerleading squad can speak volumes on leadership, teamwork and dedication.

These cheerleaders can't hear their words, they can't hear their clapping. They can't hear their feet hit the ground.

But they're sending a message that speaks louder than words.

"I want to tell them that deaf people we can do anything that the hearing can do -- except for hear," says cheerleader Fallon Heney.

The cheerleading squad at the California School for the Deaf uses visual cues, a hand gesture, a stomp, to start their cheers. To keep in sync, they pay attention to each other's movements, and the few that can hear and speak a little help guide their teammates.

"I learned teamwork,” says cheerleader Michael Garza. “I learned how to trust each other."

A trust that's elevated this team to a high level of performance. They will be the first deaf squad ever to cheer in an international competition, up against 29 other teams in Hawaii next month.

Assistant Coach David Terrell says, "I want to show the hearing teams, that yes, a deaf team can join in."

"We're trying our best,” cheerleader Jerome Starr adds. “We wanna be the champs."

The squad also cheers for its deaf basketball and football teams. They practice everyday after school for two hours.

The squad says their hearing audiences often join in, learning a little bit of what it takes to communicate without saying a word.

"I know some of my friends who were hearing thought no deaf could cheer. And we say, yes we can. We sign, we dance, we do everything. Everything you guys can do we can do it, we can match you."

The team still needs to raise money for their trip to Hawaii next month. To donate, call the California School for the Deaf at (909) 782-4361.

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