Written by Staff Writer
Ryan Hosier and John Pye, CNN
Even the most diehard fans of Notre Dame football probably haven’t heard of the Warriors TUCSON DEFENDERS
At the deaf community center at St. James the Great Episcopal Church, the hearing impaired school is known as the Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
“They are a very well known team,” says Rita Westby, who takes special pride in the city where her son Alex Pye’s heard-impaired team has been competing since 2015. “We’re always the underdogs.”
St James the Great Episcopal Church is where the Riverside University High School TUCSON DEFENDERS play their games. Credit: Ryan Hosier
Her son plays a spot on the predominantly deaf team. The last seven players on the team are considered TUCSON DEFENDERS; there are about 60 players on the entire team. “They are fighting to win,” she says.
Watch a video with instructions for playing trombone and guitar at St. James the Great Episcopal Church. Credit: Ryan Hosier
Contrary to early reports, football players at Riverside University High School aren’t blind but have turned what is perceived as a disadvantage into a strength.
The players practice in a football complex within the walls of St. James the Great Episcopal Church. (Riverside University is the only school of its kind in the area.) The grounds are surrounded by air conditioned classrooms so the students can focus on the football skills they must hone to play.
Riverside University High School football team Credit: Ryan Hosier
When the football players were first selected to play in the deaf football league, they weren’t very good, coach Pat Hausch says.
Hausch, a professional disc jockey who plays a key role in creating and running the team, says the players learned the nuances of the game from watching films of games and watching other teams.
The team prepared for training camp by playing a small local league on the weekends to test their skills and convince people that they were a good bet to make the team.
“I think they’ve overcome a lot of that.”