Air Force vet creates powerlifting gym for special needs athletes: ‘They saved me’
Air Force veteran and powerlifting coach Jordan Matulevich created the Be Humble Gym in Sherman, Illinois as a community, nonprofit space where special needs athletes can train year-round, free of charge. Matulevich’s journey to founding Be Humble, however, was one riddled with adversity and addiction.
The California School for the Deaf’s varsity football team is two games away from winning the division championship for the very first time in the school’s 68-year history, according to the New York Times.
Led by the school’s deaf physical education teacher, Keith Adams, who has two sons on the team, the Cubs are not only undefeated, but they’re also the highest ranked team in their Southern California division, demolishing many opponents they play.
The report added it’s a far cry for the athletic program, previously humiliated and mocked by opponents for the inability to hear.
View from a closeup of a goal post on a high schools’ football field
On the second round of the playoffs this past Friday, they obliterated the Desert Christian Knights, 84-12, a score that likely would have been even higher had they not substituted their starters for their second-string players for the entire second half.
“I sometimes still can’t believe how well we played this year,” Adams said. “I knew we were good, but never in my dreams did I think we would dominate every game.”
The coaching staff capitalized on their perceived deficit into an unrivaled strength.
Football is a sport known for hand signals for plays, but other teams can’t compete with the Cubs who can communicate with hand movements at an unrivaled speed without wasting time to run to the sidelines for a pep talk from the coach or a huddle in between plays.
“I would say be careful in thinking that you have an advantage,” warned Aaron Williams, coach of Desert Christian Knights who suffered the lopsided loss to them this Friday.
“They communicate better than any team I have ever coached against.”
The players use their heightened visual senses to their advantage, having a more acute sense of where they’re on the field compared to their opponents, per Times.
An Indiana high school fullback has torn up the gridiron this season, but has yet to receive a scholarship.
According to the players, parents and staff, the success of the program stems from the all-deaf environment, thriving in an environment where they no longer feel alone, like they often do in mainstream settings.
“Absolutely, this has changed his life,” Delia Gonzales, mother of Felix, a junior wide receiver on the team. “Now he is one of the stars.”
(AP Photo/Stephen J. Carrera, File)
Spectators watch them play under less than ideal conditions on bleachers that look “as if they were salvaged from a demolished stadium” with a scoreboard that’s hard to read, while running on uneven grass surfaces under dim portable floodlights, “each with its own exhaust-spewing generator, the kind of equipment that might be deployed by a night construction crew repaving an interstate,” according the Times.
Thomas Fuller, San Francisco bureau chief for the Times, says Hollywood is now calling.
“So who knows what’s ahead for the pride of Riverside?”
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