Whitworth men's basketball welcomes Gallaudet University to the - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Whitworth men's basketball welcomes Gallaudet University to the Fieldhouse

Entire team & coaching staff is either deaf or hard of hearing Entire team & coaching staff is either deaf or hard of hearing

Friday night, the Whitworth Pirates men's basketball team welcomed a unique visitor to the Fieldhouse. Gallaudet University is a federally chartered private school in Washington, D.C., for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The entire team and coaching staff is either deaf or hard of hearing, with the exception of the equipment manager who serves as the team's interpreter. Despite what some might think is a disadvantage, the Bison are a successful basketball program--coming off a record-breaking 20-6 season just last year. Whether it's trying to communicate with each other or the officials, the Bison are more than up for the challenge.

"It's a challenge, but we're used to that," said Kevin Kovacs, the Gallaudet head men's basketball coach. "That's how we play through growing up. We know that we have a challenge that we can not hear what's going behind. In communication we have to use our eyes, but at the same time we can't keep our eyes off the ball or off the men. We have to focus on the game. So it's always a challenge for us, but we all strive to find a way to play."

"Yeah eye contact is very important," said Andy Cruz, a senior forward for Gallaudet. "That's like the most special thing you have to look for on the floor. Um, communicating with other players takes a lot in practice, but we're always communicating during practice and learning different signs that's easier ways to communicate with each other."

The Bison tested their skills against Whitworth Friday night, but ultimately fell short by a score of 92-56. They'll now travel to Walla Walla to face Whitman College on Saturday.

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