Written by Staff Writer
(CNN) — While the rest of the US is struggling in a state of fiscal and foreign policy uncertainty, a largely under-the-radar team from Southern California, known as the La Jolla Roosters, has been winning football games with a deaf president and deaf football coach.
For the second straight year, this final Sunday of the high school football season, all eyes will be on the deaf team in La Jolla, California, home of Johnny Chaffins. This year, there’s an added element, and the second straight title game is a rematch of last year’s championship game.
ESPN recently profiled the team, and in the four years Chaffins has been President, the team has gone 51-2.
But that record has been outplayed by the sacrifices made by players.
Some, like alternate quarterback Bradlee Thompson, have been on the team for years and can’t hear the game. Others play or serve as team managers but will instead be in school to make sure their learning disabilities do not overshadow their efforts.
Granted, the team is hardly unique, and with all the stereotypes surrounding deaf people, Chaffins is quick to point out that not all deaf people do sports. There are also famous sports celebrities with hearing disabilities — most notably deaf actor Elijah Wood.
As a former competitive student, Chaffins participated in the national Deaf American Football League, which he says showcases the skills of deaf athletes.
But not all deaf people are interested in the sport, as shown by the cast members of the sports reality TV show “D-List” and actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, an accomplished deaf athlete. While hearing people tend to take advantage of the deaf community’s opportunities, Chaffins noted, there are some deaf people who don’t even know what the game is and others who, like Thompson, have tried out for and been cut from multiple Deaf American Football League teams.
On the football field, everyone plays and as a team, everyone has to be “on,” from the pregame huddle, to the line calls, and, eventually, the cheers.
Chaffins tries to explain it like this: On the field, “we’re kind of a band of brothers, at heart.”