Deaf basketball team favoured to take championships
MONTREAL - One of Montreal's best basketball teams won't be hearing much praise.
A set of hoopsters from Montreal composed entirely of deaf and hearing-impaired players has been showing all the signs of a championship team.
It's all much to the surprise of their coach, who was floored when he realized how competitive his players are.
Nico Loureiro, who is hearing, is still overcoming his communication deficit.
"My sign language is not there yet," he said. "I still need to learn it, I have an interpreter teaching me so I use my hands a lot."
One of his star players survived the Rwandan genocide and now lights it up on the boards.
Steve Okito finds inspiration knowing that deaf players can make it to the top levels of the sport, as proven by Lance Allred, who stars in the NBA.
"I'm very happy to see that a deaf person is an NBA player," said Steve Okito, 16. "Because a lot of people think deaf people can't do anything, so I look to him as a role model and I think there is something that I can do too."
His teammates embrace the traveling opportunities that come with excelling at the sport, including the upcoming Canadian championship in Edmonton.
"I'd like to go to the world's and I'd like to travel to other countries, see the United States and Europe, I'd like to get around," said Jerome Trottman, Quebec's ASSQ-team Guard, with his hands in American Sign Language.
One of his teammates said that the basketball is a great outlet to show off his blazing speed.
"I'm very fast," said Ryan Andrew Dochoeny, "So I like to play basketball. I have fun."
Quebec's ASSQ team is considered a favourite in the Edmonton finals and Okito is seeing the upcoming days before the tournament as a chance to keep team-building.
"For now we are developing as a team," he said. "We'll be going to the Canadian deaf championships, it's our first tournament, and I'm pretty confident that we will win."
Anybody wanting to find out more or contribute to the ASSQ basketball effort can click here.