|Kentucky School for the Deaf gets
helping hand from Centre soccer
RELEASED: March 3, 2005
DANVILLE, KYAs Centre's men's soccer team kicks off its spring season this week, a young soccer team across town is looking forward to a promising season as well thanks to Centre.
Last summer, the Kentucky School for the Deaf decided discontinue its football program in favor of soccer. It was hard for the players, but the transition was made easier with the help of the Centre College soccer program.
"A lot of the boys didn't want to leave football, but we didn't have enough players," says Paul Smiley, soccer coach for KSD. "Jeb Burch invited 10 KSD players to Centre's soccer camp and gave all 10 scholarships. He took special interest in our boys and hired interpreters at his own expense. He really sold the kids on soccer."
Burch and assistant coach Mark Hudson also attended KSD's first practice and went through a series of drills that the KSD team used every day thereafter.
"A lot of them said they'd never worked that hard in their lives," Smiley says. "They learned basic fundamentals, positions and rules. It was very helpful for them. Our students were very receptive."
Centre's coaching staff held a practice session mixing the KSD team with the Danville High School team. "It meant a lot to the KSD players," Burch says, "because they hadn't had that type of instruction before and they also had the opportunity to work with players who weren't hearing impaired. I believe this had a positive impact on both the KSD students and the Danville High School students."
After struggling the first part of the season, KSD finished its inaugural soccer season with three wins, including homecoming.
Smiley says he looks forward to this year.
"The kids have one year under their belts and I think we'll be fine," says Smiley.
Burch hopes to sustain Centre's relationship with KSD's soccer program, and he will encourage his players' participation in the future.
"Awareness is the biggest impact," Burch says. "Hearing impaired students can't help but feel left out at times. The more included they feel in the community, the more they'll succeed in other areas not just in soccer."
Centre's men's soccer team begins its spring season Monday. The Colonels play the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky on April 13.
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