I’m prefacing today’s blog entry with a personal story.

Back in the early 2000s, I was part of one of the first groups of organized supporters for a women’s soccer franchise, the Washington Freedom of the WUSA. It was a group which stood, banged drums, and generally showed out to bring atmosphere to the rattle-trap home ground, RFK Stadium.

A few times, we would have some students from Gallaudet University join us, including members of the U.S. women’s Deaf national soccer team. These folks were truly hard-core fans, knowing that we were meant to try to make noise, but the women weren’t cheering. Instead, they banged bodhran drums for 90 minutes in unwavering support of the team.

The Deaf national team, back around the time of the old WUSA, labored (and I’m saying this with great sincerity) in silent obscurity for years before playing their first international match in 1999 in London. They played under the aegis of the USA Deaf Soccer Association, finding sponsorship to attend world tournaments like the Deaflympics and the DIFA World Soccer Championships, The team won three DIFA World Championships and four Deaflympics tournaments, and their official record is 37 wins, one draw, and zero defeats.


Yep, this is a team and a program that has been as dominant on the world stage as the non-Deaf national team. Perhaps in recognition of this, the Deaf national team programs — both men and women — joined U.S. Soccer’s Extended National Team program in 2022. Gone were the days of wearing custom uniform with the USA Deaf Soccer logo; the U.S. team now wears the same uniform as Mia Hamm, Sophia Smith Sydney LeRoux, and Emily Sonnett.

But today, you will get to know Sophie Post, Mia White, Sydney Andrews, and Emily Spreeman. These women are in the current Deaf women’s national team pool, and they will be playing a friendly this afternoon against Australia.

Unlike every other game in their history, the Deaf National Team is playing on national cable television, on TruTV. They are also playing as the opening act in a doubleheader with the U.S. senior women’s national side as they are preparing for the Paris Olympics.

The Deaf national team, however, is not preparing for Paris. The Paralympics do not have a category for Deaf athletes in any sport; instead, the Paralympics are for athletes with physical, intellectual, and visual impairments, 

Somehow, aural disabilities do not count. Perhaps showing the excellence of this team will get the International Paralympic Committee to change its stance.


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