Gallaudet Athletics Department Feature

April 23, 2017

[Transcript] MIKE: Hello, I’m Mike Weinstock. It is my 10th year as the athletic director at Gallaudet University. My proudest achievement here: when I got here, there were only two full- time coaches. We’ve expanded to 12 full-time coaches. I still want more. 


KEVIN: Hello, my name is Kevin Kovacs. I am the head coach for Gallaudet University men’s basketball team. 


STEPHANIE: I’m Stephanie Stevens and it is my fifth year as the women’s basketball coach here at Gallaudet.


TOM: My name is Tom McKnight. I’ve been the assistant athletic trainer here for four years. 


LIZA: Hi, I’m Liza Offreda. I work here at the Gallaudet athletics department. I’ve been the women’s soccer coach for four years and I’m also the Title IX coordinator.  


KELSEY: Hi, my name is Kelsey Hudson. I’m from Michigan and I’m a junior at Gallaudet University. I play basketball and softball — I’m a two-sport athlete. 


MIKE: Winning a NCAA Championship — that’s my dream as an athletic director. 


I think with all sports we are improving in different areas. In a few years we will be the top in our conference. When I started working here, we had an old logo that looked like a BBQ restaurant. I knew we needed a change. After the first two designs, we got it. See the Gallaudet shape here? It has a purpose. And it seems everybody loves it. 


When I started here 10 years ago, our baseball field was probably one of the worst in Washington, D.C. I told Gallaudet that we must do something if we wanted to recruit prospective students here — we had to improve it. Gallaudet agreed and we put this new turf. Now we have the best baseball field in the Washington, D.C. area. 


The softball field is 100% turf, no soil. Before whenever it rained or snowed, we had to cancel games. Now if it rains, we can go ahead and play. It can handle 7 inches of rain in an hour. We haven’t had a home run that hit a house.


This is the football locker room. We installed new lockers 6 or 7 years ago. The original design was supposed to have the locker dividers go down straight. But we didn’t want it as it was not deaf-friendly. So the company was willing to make it curved. Our players are happy, they can communicate and it is open. It’s really nice. 


KEVIN: It is all about our culture, our community. That is what will help Gallaudet’s basketball team become successful. It takes perseverance. It takes patience. It takes hard work, consistency, and not giving up to get your dreams. I never, ever think I’m above students or people. I always feel like we are equals, even if they are in their 20’s and I’m in my 40’s. I always feel like I’m even. I always recognize, value, and respect their opinions. 


My goal is to have a community without any walls where we are all united. It doesn’t matter where you come from — whether you have deaf or hearing parents, if you can sign or have not learned sign. 


We all must know and care for each other and build that community.


STEPHANIE: When I started working here at Gallaudet — I had never been to a small school before. My high school was big, over 1,000 students. So I was used to having things be big, and when I came here, I was immediately drawn in. it’s because everybody knew each other. 


Athletics, academics, and life — those three are all interconnected. They aren’t separate.


Adversity is a big and important word in athletics. There are many different people coming together in one program. The individual players come from different backgrounds. 


We know as coaches and people that we can’t just expect things to go as planned. We know there will be obstacles along the way. 


For me I feel very fortunate to be here and to do everything everyday that I love, which are two things: communicate in ASL and coach basketball. 


KELSEY: Gallaudet is the first deaf school I’ve been in. I grew up in an hearing environment, I used my voice all the way, my family doesn’t sign. When I first came in Gallaudet and learned sign language my freshman year, 


I was a newbie and overwhelmed in school and sports — I had a deaf coach and deaf teammates. I was not used to it.It was tough for me the first year, but I eventually picked up signs, learned ASL, went to courses, all that. 


I’ve improved since and It’s a really good experience for me. I’ve picked it up real fast. The social life and communication access is very cool. 


My major now is PER: Physical Education and Recreation. After graduation my goal is to maybe go back home and find a job as either an athletic trainer or an athletic coach. That’s my goal. 


TOM: Yes, I’m one of the few recognized deaf athletic trainers in the country. All the athletes sit here. I tape them and they go off to practice or games. Behind me is a cold tub. 


This is good for recovery for after practices or games — the athlete is aching all over. 


When they sit here — yes it is cold, I know that — but there are benefits after a few hours, as it reduces soreness the next day. 


After the sports season ends, I always approach athletes and say, “How are you? Are you doing good? Recovering okay? Ready for next year?” I like those kinds of relationships. 


If you want to study sports medicine — whether it be an athletic trainer, PT, OT, or even a doctor — go to Gallaudet. I went to Gallaudet and made it after graduation. Its possible — there are even alumni now studying to be doctors. A bonus is that you interact with other deaf people, get 100% communication access, it’s all here. You’re in D.C… There are a lot of beneficial things here. 


NICO: Hello, my name is Nico Santiago. I’m the assistant strength and conditioning coach here at Gallaudet. What I do — I make sure our athletes stay injury-free. That’s goal #1, to stay injury free. We build that through strength, power, flexibility, everything an athlete needs to be safe during games. 


LIZA: I have experience playing on the U.S. women’s soccer team. I’ve been involved for 10 years, I started when I was 18. I’ve been in two Deaflympics and two Deaf World Cups. 


I’ve just retired but I look forward to helping young Gallaudet students grow and be a part of the U.S. women’s soccer team. 


KEVIN: Gallaudet University has a “master’s key” to different opportunities here — without you having to get an interpreter or someone to assist you. As I give you the key, you have the opportunity to learn and grow in different ways here at Gallaudet, be it basketball, clubs, organizations, teachers, or Gallaudet faculty or staff. You have full communication access and you can open any door. That’s what makes Gallaudet so unique. 


MIKE: We want our student-athletes to have wonderful memories, fun, good experiences, and to graduate with a good feeling. 




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