Utah School for the Deaf makes history with new football team

Aug 17, 2022, 6:13 PM | Updated: Aug 18, 2022, 10:17 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind has a new, eight person co-ed football team.

The school’s associate superintendent, Michelle Tanner, said this is a program students have begged for over the years.

“When students come to you and say, ‘I want something,’ you want so badly to give it to them,” she said. “To have it for this year, to say, ‘You’ve got it!’ I’m excited for them.”

There’s currently one female player on the team. They’re recruiting more.

“She is very athletic,” said Head Coach Brian Tingley. “She is probably one of our top competitors here.”

The team has only had four practices together. Tingley said they’re working on the basics of football.

“Our kids do not have the experience,” he said. “They haven’t acquired those skills yet.”

Tanner said it’s because they haven’t had the opportunity. She said the communication barrier can make it difficult for deaf and hard of hearing students to participate in sports.

The athletes practice on an unmarked, 80-yard field.

This team will travel to schools around the state for games. Tingley said all of the other rules are the same.

“The difference for us is, we’re not going to have a cadence of our huddle looking down, we’re just having to look at the ball,” he said. “Once that snap is hit, we’re ready to go.”

It’s a field of dreams for many of the students participating, like sophomore John Dietz.

“I wanted to be a part of football; it’s my very favorite sport,” he said. “I watch it all the time. I always wanted to play.”

The dream is to play against other schools for the deaf across the country.

The team’s first game is against White Horse High School on Sept. 3.

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Utah School for the Deaf makes history with new football team