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Okla. school for the deaf helping students shine in the classroom and on the field

Okla. school for the deaf helping students shine in the classroom and on the field

By: Ashley Park
October 03, 2013

SULPHUR, OK — Whenever Head Coach, Tommy Varner, is standing on the sidelines during football games, he's doing more than just telling his team what plays they should run…

He's also communicating with them through sign language.

Varner is the coach of the Indians football team at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, but he says his team is no different than any other high school football team.

"Me being deaf myself, and coaching these deaf players, I feel like a role model for them," Varner said. "They're not any different than hearing people. I was raised in a hearing world, and I want to teach these kids that they are not any different."

Kentrell McCoy is a junior running back and cornerback on the team. McCoy says the team also plays other public schools, and it's no different than playing another team with deaf players.

"That's exactly right, the equality," McCoy said. "No one is above the other and we're all equal."

The football game against the Arkansas School for the Deaf kicked off the annual Department of Rehabilitation Services Expo. Communications Director, Jody Harlan, says they offer programs and services to help those with disabilities become more independent and find a job. She says helping children with disabilities get a good education is also important.

"They're just as capable as anyone else," Harlan said. "It's important that they get that message early because that builds confidence. The schools are all about teaching the kids to be independent and empowered."

Confidence that has players like McCoy dreaming big.

"I want to play in the NFL," said McCoy. "I'm going to press on with that goal and stay true to my dream."



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