Deaf Basketball Player Scores Despite Disability - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Deaf Basketball Player Scores Despite Disability

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FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) -

A McLane High School Junior isn't the first deaf student to play a varsity sport.  But Kenny Elder doesn't let his disability slow him down on the basketball court.

Elder, no. 20, has been a part of the Highlander scoring machine for the past three years and says that it's been a daily challenge that he welcomes.  Despite his disability, he says it hasn't held him back on the court or in the classroom.

"Sometimes it is hard being deaf especially sometimes when I'm in practice," Elder said through his interpreter.  "I don't always catch everything that's going on.   And sometimes working with the referees it's really different to pay attention to their calls."

Germaine Tanner, McLane High's varsity coach, says Kenny is the first deaf athlete he's ever coached.  

"It's actually a privilege," he said. "[He's a] good kid; comes in everyday, works hard. We don't have a problem at all being that I've been his coach for the past two years."

The team does have an interpreter at the end of the bench.  Diane huddles with the team during timeouts to keep Kenny, in the know.

Athletic director Javan Childs, however, has had some concerns, his biggest being Elder's safety. 

"To make sure that the refs understand it as well as coaches on the other side.   So they don't ever perceive it that he's being treated more favorably that the rest. But really that there's a communication barrier there," Childs said.

Elder has also fared well off the court, too.

Not too many kids can sign on the McLane campus but they can text. So can Kenny.

Sayla Gonzales, a McLane high school student, says Kenny is a gamer.  

"...he's very motivated, very raw," she said. "He puts his heart out there when he plays."

He can palm the ball and dribble between his legs.  He's a fun loving teenager and just like his teammates he enjoys playing for a crowd. 

 "Yeah, absolutely, it makes me really happy," Elder said about basketball. "I love when they all come and they thank us when the game is over.   It's really fun and I want more people to come and see our games and support us."

McLane currently has a season record of 17–and–6.   Elder dreams of playing college basketball at Fresno State.

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