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December 7, 2004

Athlete driven by love of sport

From: Indianapolis Star, IN - Dec 7, 2004

His devotion to wrestling will take Joseph Pfaff all the way to Australia.

By Chris Nelsen
Star correspondent
December 7, 2004

Growing up without the ability to hear presented many challenges to Joseph Pfaff, but it didn't stop him from pursuing the sport he loves.

Pfaff began wrestling when he was in first grade. Now the 17-year-old's years of hard work have paid off. The Franklin resident will participate at the Deaflympics in Melbourne, Australia, Jan 5-16.

The competition will host more than 3,000 deaf athletes from more than 80 countries. Pfaff was chosen for the Deaflympics after trying out at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., in April.

Pfaff attended Indiana School for the Deaf most of his life before recently transferring to Maryland School for the Deaf to prepare for the competition. He will participate in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Deaflympics in the 160-pound weight class.

"Deaflympics is every deaf wrestler's dream, and I am one of the few players to be chosen to compete in Australia this winter," Pfaff said in a written statement.

Beatrice Pfaff, Joseph's mother, will make the trip to Melbourne along with his father, Darrell, and his 21-year-old brother, Daniel. All are deaf.

Beatrice Pfaff said Joseph transferred to Maryland School for the Deaf to help him better prepare for the Deaflympics. Indiana School for the Deaf eliminated its wrestling program two years ago.

"Maryland School for the Deaf has a very strong wrestling program," she said via an e-mail response. "He went there to have good drill preparation for the Deaf Olympics."

Joseph began wrestling in an AAU league when he was 8. He also spent many years with the Beech Grove Wrestling Club. During his middle school career, he posted a 31-1 record. In high school, he has tallied a 53-6 mark.

Despite all of Joseph's wrestling accomplishments, Beatrice Pfaff knows that winning a gold medal at the Deaflympics will not be an easy task for her son.

"Joseph will be challenged at the Deaf Olympics," Beatrice said. "He will play against adult foreigners in Australia for the gold, which is his real challenge."

The only thing left for Joseph to accomplish before he heads off to Melbourne is raising enough money for the trip. Total expenses are expected to reach near $7,000. Pfaff already has raised all but about $1,100.

"I have done everything on my checklist prior going to Deaflympics; the only thing left for me to do is to earn money for my expenses," Joseph said in his statement.

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