Capturing the Gold
by Carl Denney
The USA Men’s Basketball Team captured the Gold Medal at the recent Pan American Deaf Basketball tournament held in Frederick, Maryland on the campus of the Maryland School for the Deaf. Their championship was the first since the Gold Medal at the 2009 Deaflympics held in Taipei. Their 97-53 victory over Argentina sealed the Gold Medal for this hard-working team. Their victory guaranteed the USA Team a spot at the 2017 Deaflympics to be held in Turkey.
Several USADB mainstays were in prominent roles during the men’s run through the Pan American Deaf Basketball. Raymond Nelson (Arizona Desert Fire) was chosen tournament Most Valuable Player. The Indy Hawks backcourt tandem of Robert Haney, Jr. and Preston Kelly were regular starters, with Kelly being named to the Pan Am All-Tournament team. The former Arizona Desert Fire and current DMV post Orion Palmer was very contributive inside the paint. Layton Seeber of the Showstoppers and Frank Jackson of the New York Tornadoes proved capable off the bench for the team. Jeremias Valencia of the Deaf Sports Academy was Captain of the team, along with Haney.
There were several recent Gallaudet University players on the team – the aforementioned Nelson, Josh McGriff, the towering 6’8 center for the Bison who was also named to the Pan Am All-Tournament team, 6’7 Shawn Harrington, the sharpshooting Trey Gordon, the burly post Andy Cruz plus recent High School Player of the Year Noah Valencia from California – Riverside, who made his second international roster alongside his father, Jeremias.
The team was coached by Jimmy DeStefano, the Head Coach of the Maryland School for the Deaf and his assistants Kevin Kovacs, the Head Coach of Gallaudet University and Mike Yance, the Kentucky School for the Deaf Head Coach. USADB International Director is David Hamilton, the recently retired Arizona Desert Fire star and current Head Coach of the California – Fremont varsity team.
The Women’s Team did not compete in this tournament as their spot in the 2017 Deaflympics has already been claimed. The Head Coach of the Women’s USA Team is Laura Edwards, the current Head Coach of the Arizona School for the Deaf’s girls varsity program and a longtime star with the Arizona Black Widows.