Saturday, December 4, 2021
Dec. 4, 2021

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Washington School for the Deaf opens doors for athletes

Homecoming game is reason to celebrate despite loss

By , Columbian staff writer
6 Photos
Washington School for the Deaf hosted New Mexico School for the Deaf for Saturday’s Homecoming game in Vancouver. NMSD won 62-12.
Washington School for the Deaf hosted New Mexico School for the Deaf for Saturday’s Homecoming game in Vancouver. NMSD won 62-12. Photo Gallery

Juan and Jose Ramirez are prospering in a new sport at a new place they call home.

Not only are the twin brothers new residential students to Washington School for the Deaf via Federal Way’s Todd Beamer High School, but also are new to football.

In fact, the juniors said, coming to the Vancouver school that serves students kindergarten through 12th grade statewide was the right choice they and their family made. Attending a school with similar peers allows them to feel accepted and thrive in the educational setting, and that includes football.

“We didn’t have the skills to play on public school teams,” quarterback Jose Ramirez said in American Sign Language. “It’s made us really happy to participate in sports, and we really enjoy being with other deaf players.”

Saturday, WSD kickoff a full day of Homecoming festivities that included hosting New Mexico School for the Deaf in its 8-man football game at Devereaux Field.

About 500 alumni from numerous graduating classes, fans and current students and staff were on hand to celebrate 80 years of cheerleading and the 1978 Terriers football team that went 8-0.

This year’s Terriers dropped their third game of the year Saturday, 62-12. Ramirez’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Alexz Schaut in addition to Yovany Barragan’s 8-yard touchdown run, highlighted the Terriers’ offense. Both scores came in the third quarter.

Rob MacArthur first coached the Terriers in 2001 as an assistant before becoming head coach in 2009. The team lost six starters — five seniors and one player via transfer — from last season’s squad and commonly relies on first-time football players.

This year’s team is no exception with five first-time players. One of them is Schaut, the freshman who scored the team’s second of two touchdowns. Last year, two of the football newbies were the Ramirez brothers. Juan Ramirez plays wide receiver.

While lack of football terminology for new players can be a challenge, MacArthur said, his team’s progress continues to impress the longtime coach. WSD’s wins are against fellow 1B schools Wishkah Valley (54-12) and Oakville (76-46).

“They are learning as we go,” MacArthur said in ASL. “The growth has been amazing.”

WSD is playing a non-playoff eligible schedule, said school athletic director Ron Spratlen. He said a number of factors go into the school’s decision annually whether to play a schedule to allow for playoff contention, including participation numbers. WSD last qualified for the postseason in 2015.

The New Mexico School for the Deaf (6-1) is a 6-man football team based out of Santa Fe. The Roadrunners scored four second-quarter touchdowns for a 34-0 halftime lead after an 8-0 first-quarter advantage.

Spratlen said the school schedules games in all sports offered with other state-run schools for the deaf. Earlier this season, its football, volleyball and cheerleading teams traveled to the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf in Arizona and will travel to the New Mexico School for the Deaf next year.

Its long-standing home-and-home football rivalry with nearby Oregon School for the Deaf ended when the school eliminated football three years ago.

Saturday was about the present and the past. Senior lineman Dared Redford is a third generation WSD student in his family.

He’s spent all but two years at WSD and returned to playing football sophomore year. He was team manager freshman year.

“I needed to have that release and that’s what football provided me,” Redford said in ASL. “It’s the brotherhood, the bond and togetherness we feel within the locker room and out on the field.”

Redford called Saturday an inspirational scene to see so many generations of alumni returning who cherish the school the same way he does.

“We have pride for WSD inside of us,” he said.