Fremont’s California School for the Deaf named national champion among deaf high schools

Doing a story on the California School for the Deaf this month has been really inspiring. The Fremont school is a huge, but often overlooked, part of the Tri-City-area community.

This week, the varsity football team got some good news and some bad news.

Tuesday, the Fremont high school finished second in the voting for a Sports Illustrated contest, losing out on the chance to receive a $25,000 grant and a trip to Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year ceremony in New York City. The contest’s winner is Ishpeming High School in Michigan, whose place-kicker, Eric Dompierre, has Down syndrome.

The pair of schools were among 10 teams nationwide vying for that honor. As mentioned in a longer Argus story on CSD earlier this week, Sports Illustrated this season featured the Fremont school  in “Underdogs,” an online video series that focused on high school football teams battling major challenges.

The good news is that the Eagles on Tuesday were named National Deaf Prep Football Champion by the second organization in as many weeks, head coach Warren Keller said.

The National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association, comprised of athletic directors at deaf schools nationwide, awarded them the honor about a week after writers from Deaf Digest Sports did.

The Eagles just concluded their best season ever, setting a single-season record for wins after notching a 10-2 record and winning a North Central II/Bay League title.

“Some might call us disabled, but that can be extra motivation for us. Some of us might feel hurt or angry, but when it comes time to play the game, we prove them wrong and we earn their respect.” — Carlos Lopez, CSD Eagles quarterback/defensive back

“We don’t do anything different than any other program. We haven’t faced one opponent where we’re at a disadvantage.”  — Warren Keller,  CSD Eagles head coach

“Anytime the School for the Deaf takes the field, it proves to the world that being deaf is not a disability, it’s just a speed bump. It proves no matter how high or wide the obstacle is, it’s not one that somebody can’t overcome.”  — Ryan Lentz, CSD Eagles assistant coach

Chris DeBenedetti