IM this article to a friend!

May 2, 2004

Nationally honored Baskin made biggest impact on schoolmates

From: Buffalo News, NY - May 2, 2004


Anthony Baskin freely admits there were times during the high school basketball season when he was a young man on a mission. He was out to put up big numbers, to unleash a show of force, to prove a point.

It wasn't a matter of impressing the opposition. The message Baskin strove to send was intended for his teammates, and his schoolmates. It was meant to reinforce their strength, heighten their courage, remind them that most obstacles in life are perceived and frequently conquered with resolve.

So whenever St. Mary's School for the Deaf was playing outside the Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association, Baskin made sure to have his "A" game in tow. He threw down 40 against Emerson of the Buffalo Public Schools league. He struck for 23 points and 14 rebounds against North Collins of the Cattaraugus D League. He combined for 50 points in two games against O'Hara, a school in the Monsignor Martin Association.

"I think he rises to the challenge," said athletic director Anne Kist.

"When he goes against those schools, he's had some of his best games yet," said Anthony's mother, Charlotte.

And in the result there is a message. Do you see? Do you see what we can do!

"Anthony is one of the best positive role models in school," said Jim Carmody, the St. Mary's soccer coach. "We always tell him, "The younger kids look up to you. You may not know it but they do.' "

The beauty of it all is that Baskin, a 6-foot, 160-pound senior, is fully aware of the status he's been granted at St. Mary's for the Deaf, a school of 128 students on Main Street in Buffalo that encompasses all grade levels. He knows that he's a role model, and he cherishes the responsibility. He realizes he has been afforded the opportunity to lead by example, that his successes might help to whittle away the reticence of younger schoolmates, bolster their confidence when it comes to interacting in a society short on patience.

Baskin's successes have been many. He was named the nation's top deaf high school soccer player in November after scoring 13 goals as a midfielder and leading St. Mary's to the No. 1 ranking among the country's 18 deaf soccer-playing schools. He was named national deaf co-player of the year in basketball, averaging 26.2 points and 11.9 rebounds as St. Mary's reached the ESDAA final. He's the only male athlete in the history of the school accorded both honors; Melissa John accomplished the feat in 1989.

"It means a lot to me," Baskin said last week through signing interpreter Karen Gambino. "It feels really special, especially for the deaf community. The world can see the deaf community can do anything, too."

Baskin's soccer and basketball abilities are just part of the package. He's a track athlete, one of the better 110-meter hurdlers in Western New York, and is aiming for a top-five finish in this year's state meet. He's a chip off the old block in that regard. His father, Ben, a 1970 graduate of the University of Arkansas and a logistics manager for Praxair in Tonawanda, played football and ran intermediate sprints for the Razorbacks. Anthony's older brother, Ronald, wrestled at Purdue-Lafayette.

"It's in the genes," Benjamin Baskin said, only half kiddingly.

The Baskins' history of athletic accomplishment is accompanied by academic achievement. Anthony's brother and two sisters, all at least 10 years older, are college graduates. Anthony will earn a Regents diploma.

"I was always forced to do my homework before I could play with my friends," he said.

It doesn't stop there. He's taking an advanced placement course in physics, through North Tonawanda High School.


"That's why we can't help him with his homework anymore," Ben said.

Anthony received offers from Indiana, Syracuse and Rochester Institute of Technology but will accept a scholarship to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the nation's foremost institution for deaf and hearing impaired students. He plans to play basketball while majoring in business or information technology.

"We're happy with his decision," said basketball and track coach Bill Steger. "He can be an athlete and a student, as opposed to if he goes to another college and sits a lot. That would be extremely frustrating for him."

"It's the only place I know I can get an education and play sports at the same time," Anthony said.

The Baskins have nothing but the highest praise for St. Mary's. Twelve years ago, when Ben was offered a job transfer, the Baskins left Indiana to visit Buffalo, to see if there was a school for the deaf that would be ideal for their son.

"If not, we were going to stay," Benjamin said. "I just want to say this is the best school for the deaf in the whole, wide world."

"Everyone always gives credit to the parents when a child turns out good," Charlotte said. "But it's the teachers, the coaches, the interpreters. It's a whole group that has made him what he is."

"Like Margaret Mead said," added Kist, "it takes a village to raise a child."

Anthony has reached the bittersweet stage of his days at St. Mary's, the time when sentimentality blends with the excitement of the new challenges that await. He's going to miss the place. And it's going to miss him.

"I've always been struck by how helpful he is," Carmody said. "And he's been that way since he was a young kid. Sometimes there haven't been a lot of talented players alongside him, but he's made them better, as well as improved himself."

Copyright 1999 - 2004 - The Buffalo News