They cheered and the irony of it all

Unbeknownst to us, we were about to experience the greatest irony in sports. Our chance encounter was serendipity at it’s highest level. The fans immediately to our right, about thirty of them were in a state of absolute euphoria. The billboard on the outside of this huge sports venue said, ‘ High School State Championship Wrestling’.

This was my first such trip to this event as I was a first year varsity wrestling coach who was lucky enough to have two first year wrestlers qualify for state. We were assigned a particular place in the stands for us and our fans. By the luck of the draw, our team was  to sit next to the state deaf and blind school.

Our two wrestlers lost in the first round, therefore we became witness and participants to the greatest show on earth. The communication between the unsighted and the unhearing and their relationships drew them to us. Everything else in the tournament became landscape. The real story was how a deaf student could read the wrestling program and transmit that information to a blind student that could hear. An announcement over the loudspeaker was heard by the blind students and relayed at once to the deaf students. Trips to the bathroom or concession stand was a ballet of gestures and touches that had been choreographed years earlier by these students.

Then on Saturday night came the climax of this reality play that was set before us. A deaf wrestler representing his school has qualified for the state championship match.The energy and the transmission of that boys’s match is one of the greatest ironies that I have ever seen. There will never be a better last sentence to a sporting event than this next one. With tears in my eyes, I saw blind students clapping and cheering loudly for a champion wrestler who they couldn’t see and toward that same champion that couldn’t hear their exultations.  Regardless, the feeling between them was electric. When he won, the transmission lines were overloaded with excitement and pride. I will never forget that moment.

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