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Not to worry, Mrs. Korn, the Cubs deliver a lot more spleen-shakers than they get. "Everybody comes in doubting us," signs tight end Joey Weir, "but we're in the playoffs and they're not."
Actually, teams come in with a lot of questions. How do the Cubs handle snap counts? (Everybody watches the ball and goes on a tap from Korn to his center.) How do they audible? (They don't.) How do they hear the whistle? (They don't.) They've learned to stop when everybody else stops, but that can be trouble. One game this year Korn stopped on a rollout near the end zone because he saw his receiver stop. But the receiver had stopped because he was out of room. Korn got crushed and coughed up the ball, which was returned for a touchdown.
Some things you just have to learn for yourself. At halftime last Friday two kids sneaked into the little gym the CSDR players use to regroup and stared goggle-eyed as the Cubs signed and encouraged one another wordlessly. "See! I told ya!" the one kid whispered to the other. "They ain't sayin' nothin'!"
A few players tried hearing schools, but they knew they were home when they hit CSDR, the only all-deaf high school in Southern California. "I was first-string in summer camp my freshman year at one [hearing school]," signs running back Alberto Martinez, who rushed for 198 yards against Twin Pines and 319 the game before. "Then the coach shoved me aside because they couldn't talk to me. But I knew I'd make it somewhere."
The Cubs play for more than their school's colors. "I have deaf friends all over the state who are pulling for us," signs Weir.
They'll need it. This weekend Weir and his Riverside Brothers, as they call each other, will try to become the first CSDR team in any sport to win a playoff game. And as they pounded that drum and whooped their shrill coyote whoops and slammed their hands on tables in that tiny echoing gym after Friday's victory, I put my fingers in my ears and secretly hoped they would.
Assistant coach Keith Adams saw me, smiled and signed, "When you're done with this story, you'll be deaf too."
As I looked around and saw all the lung-crusher hugs and cantaloupe-slice grins, I thought, That doesn't sound so bad at all. ?