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January 22, 2005

Dunbar grad grabs gold in Deaflympics

From: - Lexington,KY,USA - Jan 22, 2005


By Mark Maloney

Cutting down the nets after a championship victory is a basketball tradition, one that Lexington's Sekoe White carried on last weekend after helping the United States beat seven teams at the Deaflympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Then he took his gold medal, scroll and piece of net. He found friend Cathy Brandt and said, in sign language, "Thank you. Give these to my dad."

"He told me he was going to get it," said Sekoe's father, Virgil White Jr. "I believe in him."

So does Brandt, who is classified as a highly skilled educator and is on loan from the Fayette County system to the state Department of Education.

Sekoe (pronounced see-koo) lost his hearing at age 2 because of multiple ear infections and meningitis.

Brandt met him 14 years ago, when she taught deaf education at Ashland Elementary in Lexington. They have been close ever since.

Sekoe, a graduate of Paul Dunbar and now a freshman at Gallaudet University in Washington, was asked via e-mail if the gesture to his father was emotional.

"Who I am is the most high emotions in that gesture to my dad," Sekoe responded. "Even (though) I am deaf, I just move on in my life! I treat my father like my father!"

In other words, Sekoe values who he is and how he represents his family more than a medal.

"I'm sure he 'signed' his answers to himself before he sat down and wrote them in English," Brandt said.

"If you 'sign this' in American Sign Language -- which is a conceptual language and not tied to our word-for-word English language -- it's a beautiful sentiment. It shows a connection between a father and a son. It's a picture of a bond that is mutually giving where the son is giving back to a father who has always been there to support him. Now the son is simply giving back the things he achieves to honor and thank the father. So, to Sekoe it's not a big emotional 'dramatic' event ... it's just the natural reaction of his heart. That is who Sekoe is. He is a giver."

Last year, Sekoe gave the S.T. Roach Achievement Award that he won to his mother, Barbara Lyles.

White played at Kentucky School for the Deaf from the eighth grade through his sophomore year before transferring to Dunbar. His five-year totals came to 2,233 points, 1,238 rebounds, 543 assists and 384 steals.

At the Deaflympics, a multi-sport Olympic-style event, he was one of five Gallaudet players who filled the 11-man American roster. (HBO Sports is considering a project that would feature White and some of his Gallaudet teammates. If approved, filming will begin next month, according to the school's sports information director, Jeremy Bunblasky.)

Team USA outscored foes by an average of 106.4-71.0.

White shot 51 percent from the field and scored 31 of his 47 points in the last three games.

"It was just unbelievable," Brandt said. "He just decided a long time ago that he wanted to do a lot of things with his life, and he has worked hard to not let anything stop him."

Not even the $4,500 cost for the trip, which Central Kentuckians helped him raise to make it to Australia.

"If not for these people, my family and God, I won't be able to have that gift as basketball player and The GOLD medal won't come home to Kentucky!," Sekoe wrote. "So you all mean a lot to my life, 'specially my beautiful state of KENTUCKY!"

Sekoe White and Team USA in Deaflympics

Pool play

USA Opp. White's pts., reb., asst., blk, stl

102 Greece 88 2 1 0 0 2

77 Lithuania 72 2 3 0 0 0

101 Ukraine 74 4 2 0 0 1

116 Turkey 50 8 3 3 2 1

110 Italy 57 11 4 2 0 0

Medal round

131 Australia 78 12 2 2 0 2

108 Slovenia 78 8 2 1 0 2

745 Totals 497 47 17 8 2 8

106.4 (Averages) 71.0 6.7 2.4 1.1 0.3 1.1

© 2005 Lexington Herald-Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.