Episode 34 Show Notes

(Read the episode transcript below)

On episode 34 of All Ears at Child’s Voice: A Hearing Loss Podcast, Wendy and Haley talk to Dave Kunitz. Dave is the head soccer coach for the USA Deaf Soccer team. He talks about his experience with coaching players of all abilities for the past 20 years, including the past 10 years as the Deaf soccer team head coach. Dave has a unique perspective as a typically hearing individual working with players with hearing loss from all walks of life, and brings positivity to both lesson on and off the field, encouraging individuals of all abilities to be the best version of themselves.

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Resources from this episode: USA Deaf Soccer

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Episode Transcript:

Intro (Haley with music):
Welcome to All Ears at Child’s Voice, a podcast discussing all things hearing loss. We aim to connect parents of children with hearing loss with the professionals who serve them. And now, to start the show..

Wendy:
Welcome to another episode of All Ears at Child’s Voice, We aim to connect parents of children with hearing loss to the professionals who serve them. We’re your hosts. I’m Wendy Deters.

Haley:
And I’m Haley Gubbins. Today’s episode is a conversation about sports and hearing loss. Our conversation is with coach Dave Kunitz. Dave has had an incredible career as a soccer coach, as he is currently the head coach for the Deaf National Soccer Team. Dave received his bachelors of science at the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma with degrees in physical education and natural sciences. He has also been the Oklahoma Energy Football Club College placement program director, and has been the coach for both the girls and boys Elite Club National League. Dave has coached club high school and college soccer for over 20 years. Dave, thank you so much for being here today. We are so excited to talk to you.

Dave:
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Wendy:
All right. So before we jump into our main discussion, we like asking our guests for a story from the past week of their lives. So it could be anything that comes to mind, something cute or funny or heartwarming. Tell us what’s going on in your life.

Dave:
Sure. I’m actually gonna, expand on the week. I finished having a Deaf National camp in Louisville, Kentucky three weeks ago. And probably one of the best stories from camp. We had our youngest camp participant. 11, possibly 12. We happened to have a scrimmage against, ne of the youth club teams in Louisville, Kentucky, and had the entire team on the sideline jumping and celebrating. He made a great little run, little combination, got into the box and scored himself a goal. So his eyes lit up. His dad was on the sideline, doing a bunch of social media for our program and all of the players jumping up and down. And so it was really heartwarming for me just to see the kind of impact, athletics can make the fact that we can cross ages, players from all across the country coming together that, some have only known each other for two, three days. just to see everybody’s eyes light up hearts warm up it was a really a fantastic moment.

Haley:
That is so cute. I love to hear stories like that.

Wendy:
That’s awesome. I don’t think anyone else’s moment from the last month has made me tear up a little bit, but that one did. So thank you. That’s an awesome story. Well, so we’re really excited to learn more about this program and what USA Deaf Soccer is and just what this whole world is about. So can you tell us a little bit about the program?

Dave:
Yeah. The United States, men’s Deaf soccer team. I’ve been the coach since 2011. So I’ve been with the organization for 10. They actually started probably another and it’s 12 years before that. So it’s been around a lot longer than I have. My involvement is, as the head coach and, bring in players from all across the country, all age ranges. These are obviously soccer, specific athletes that want to compete on an international level. And our program is really about bringing those players together, all different walks of life. Uh, I’ll reference the last camp. Our youngest participant was 11. Our oldest participant was 41. We covered 22 different states across the U S and had players come in. You’ve got older married with children, college, ex-college, high school players, all walks of life, ethnic, social, socioeconomic, just so many different diverse backgrounds. It’s really a neat organization to be involved with.

Haley:
That sounds really unique to have that young and that old of participants all coming together. And just to clarify, all players on these teams have a hearing loss?

Dave:
Yes. There is a varying degree of hearing impairment. They do an audiogram. They do a test where players have to be declared eligible and it’s a hearing impairment or hearing loss 55 decibels, in the strongest ear. And so everybody to be able to qualify for an Olympic tournament or a deaf competition would then have to submit official paperwork.

Haley:
That’s really interesting that there’s even like a cutoff of the degree of your hearing loss. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that in any organization, you have to have this degree or more to be involved.

Dave:
It’s interesting for me because you have such a wide range. So even within the group, we have players that will sign only we’ll have players that will read lips. The organization provides a interpreter for us. My ability to sign is very, very limited. So having an interpreter is huge, just to be able to walk through specific soccer information. When you look at the team as a whole, there’s such a diverse group in terms of you know, do I sign, do I read lips? Do I rely on the interpreter or am I hard of hearing? So I can still, understand, make out some of the information that coach is able to say I am hearing as well.

Wendy:
Yeah. I think we’ll get way more into how everybody’s communicating with each other and with you. So we will definitely get into all that, but first I guess the most important thing that we skipped over was a little bit more about you as a person and a coach. So can you tell us, just a little more about your soccer journey as a, as a player and a coach?

Dave:
I always tell people soccer’s what I do. It’s not who I am. Iam married to a beautiful, hardworking woman. We have four children all were born in Texas, a quick shout out to Texas. I’ve had an opportunity, to coach across three different states, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. I grew up in Canada, to two loving parents, two younger brothers. So the five of us, kind of took on the world and participated in multiple sports and did a whole bunch of things. Parents really, gave me the belief and the opportunity to just kind of set a path and o get out into the world. I came down to play college soccer back in 1997, Phillips University in Eden, Oklahoma, that school ran into some financial difficulties and I ended up moving to a new school USAO, where I graduated. I became a assistant coach there and really started my coaching journey. And coaching has been special for me because it obviously allowed me to do something that I’m passionate about, but it also gave me the opportunity to meet my wife. She was a college player. She did start coaching. She was a teacher and coach down in Dallas. Our kids are now playing at the fields that we met at. So for all of the sentimental teary people, it’s really neat to see full circle after 20 years. I’m back in Oklahoma for the second time. And just love the opportunity to meet new people, interact with so many passionate and exciting soccer fans.

Haley:
Wow. That is so cool to hear, that’s how you met your wife and like you’ve gone other places and now you’re back and you’re coaching and that’s a beautiful story. And the fact that your kids are now playing is even better.

Wendy:
Do they all play soccer or do they have different sports that they’re in?

Dave:
They are all currently soccer players. We’re big fans and just letting our kids develop a passion and find the thing that they’re excited about. So if they decide that they don’t want to be soccer players, that will be permitted. But we’ve had to participate in TaeKwonDo. There are two black belts, TaeKwonDo. We’ve had a tumbler in the family. They’ve done some seasonal hockey or volleyball at different times, but they’re all participating in soccer right now. And really, I just love athletics as a way of learning how to interact, how to behave, how to form good social habits to integrate with other people become accepting. So, team sports is, is huge for our kids to participate in they’re in soccer now, but long-term, again, we just want them to find what they’re passionate about.

Haley:
I think it’s a good point that you brought up that it can be a really good way to learn social skills. A lot of the times, I work with the really young ones and so does Wendy, but we always encourage doing those outside activities. Especially when you have a child with hearing loss, they may not have social skills or they may need a little bit more guidance or practice in that area so encouraging them to go and learn from hearing peers is something we always recommend through sports. So I love that you said that.

Dave:
Yeah. And I think that, when you get out onto the field, once the ball is rolled out, if you want to coin a corny phrase, everybody just right, you don’t have to set a lot of structure. You don’t have to do a lot of explaining. That’s a, that’s a global piece. That’s what I love about soccer, right? If you know, when our teams travel and participate, one of the boys could roll a ball out, in Venezuela and you’d have a youth group that would come in and pick up. And so it crosses, you know, obviously hard of hearing deaf into the mainstream. It can cross geographic boundaries, political boundaries, everything. It’s a beautiful sport to integrate and involve so many different groups of people.

Wendy:
So how did you get involved with USA, Deaf soccer? Did they find you? Because it sounds like a really diverse group of individual.

Dave:
So I was living in Dallas, Texas at the time I was coaching. and one of my coaching, one of my fellow coaches was working with a deaf family. He was doing private training, doing some skills work and the team was going through a transition. They didn’t have a full a full-time coach, the previous coach had stepped away from the organization, And the deaf team at that time was really, held together by a small group of just really committed players. And so there was no oversight from an organizational standpoint, but the players brought it upon themselves to bring a group into Dallas. And so the coach that I was working with at the time said, “Hey, I’m going to be running some training sessions for this group of players. Would you like to participate? Would you like to come out, help me out?” He was also doing broadcasting at the time. And so it was a really me just loving the game and saying, “yeah, I’d love to come out and interact with the players, have an opportunity to help for a weekend.” Fast forward to the weekend. And I had an opportunity to meet the president of US deaf soccer. He was still a player at the time. He let me know that they were going through a coaching search and just the interaction and just the genuine nature of all the players just caught me. It really just drew me right in. And so I asked about applying, they said they were doing a national coaching search and put the application in did an interview. And, just really from there, it was opportunity to come in and move forward

Haley:
So prior to getting this head coach position, did you have any experience with hearing loss or do you know, sign. How did that transition happen? How was it going from being a soccer coach, then being the head soccer coach of the Deaf soccer?

Dave:
Probably like anything, right. You’re going to learn a lot as you, as you walk. And so for me, I did not have any experience. Our college that I attended has a really good Deaf Ed program, but I was more on the science side and was busy on the field and really didn’t take advantage. Looking back now really wish I went to a liberal arts college, but didn’t really get a full experience from an education standpoint. And so maybe a missed opportunity there. But with the team, it was, you know, it was really easy one. I’m passionate about what I do. I love the sport. That was a match because they were also passionate about soccer. And then two, I have knowledge and information that I want to share. Right. I believe that, um, your best coaches are teachers. And so it’s about the instruction and it’s about the relationship that you form sharing the information. And I had an opportunity, I want it to be a part of it. And from their standpoint, they needed someone to come in that cared about them and wanted to see them succeed. And so we just walked through it together. It’s been difficult. The way the program is set up structured, we don’t meet on a consistent basis. The last year and a half with COVID, our team had not been together prior to July in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2019, November, 2019. We were in Chile. You can maintain conversations and text messages and, you know, GroupMes and different, you know, apps and whatnot, but the actual coaching piece, it’s so important to be able to see someone hug them, give them a handshake, give them a high five, feel the love and the care for each other. And so it was tough for us to be a part as long as we were.

Haley:
Well, especially when you might throw communication differences where, you know, some of them are signing, some of them have access to sound, but then, you know, Zoom is never as clear as the actual you get the, the breaks, you can’t hear everyone or whatever. So I’m sure I can’t imagine how hard that was.

Wendy:
How do a lot of the players communicate with one another on the field or in practice?

Dave:
We train like we play, and what that means is anytime we’re in a training session, we have players remove cochlear implants, hearing aids because in competition you can’t use any additional aids. And so for us, we back out of that, obviously we believe the mindset that you will play the way you train. in practice have that players remove the cochlear implants. We have them remove, any hearing aids. And so the training session is a typical training session. We bring the group together, I’ll have an interpreter, we’ll walk through the steps of the training plan. We’ll rely on some visual aids, I’ll write some stuff down, kind of on a board for them to see, or we’ll do quick demonstrations. But really once we get onto the field, the, the game really, um, takes care of itself. we’ll run what we’re doing, but the players will be asked or tasked with, being responsible for managing, exercise or the game. So it’s a really neat piece for me because once the player step out onto the field, I have to release kind of the control and so talk to enough coaches and they liked to have manipulate and X and Y and move everybody. But for me, it’s really freeing because you let the players go out and they command, they take charge of the game and they will find ways to interact and communicate. The group has had a number of players that have been together for a while. So they develop a rapport and they develop an understanding of how to play together. Obviously anybody that signs they can help each other. But because the game is so fast and there’s so many constant changes, it’s really a read and react type situation where the players instincts and their past training, allow them to, to figure out what the next move or what the next decision should be.

Haley:
So did they have to remove their devices for safety reasons, like if the ball were to hit or why is that, why is that required?

Dave:
I think that’s a great question. I would assume it’s a safety piece. It’s also kind of a level playing field, right? So, because you have varying degrees, if you had the implant, you’d be able to communicate and you’d be able to have essentially an advantage. And so this way it’s levels everything out. And now everybody steps on the field. And obviously still within that, there are players that can communicate to a certain degree. But for the most part, that’s probably the most fair way to give the players the most, even chance to play.

Wendy:
Is that a rule in all of the Deaf Olympics?

Dave:
Great questions. So even though I’ve been involved with the program, as long as I have, I have not participated in a Deaf Olympics. My full-time job in coaching soccer has not allowed me to attend previous events. So I’m excited our success in the Pan-Am games back in 2019, qualified us for the Deaf Olympics. And that’s coming up May of ’22, it’ll be down in Brazil and then qualified us for the Deaf World Cup. It was also scheduled for ’22 and we’ll see competition wise, they’ve pushed back, the Deaf Olympics. It was originally December of ’21. COVID has pushed that back. So I will get my first opportunity to participate in a Deaf Olympics. I’m excited because I’ve got a good working knowledge of deaf soccer and what that looks like on the men’s and women’s side. But I can’t wait to see track and field basketball, volleyball. I mean, it’ll be really exciting to just become a fan now, right. Just a fan of Deaf, athletics, and to see all the different countries represented,

Haley:
That would be so cool to go to Brazil and see all of that.

Wendy:
That’s amazing. I wonder if there’s any way we’ll be able, to watch some of that, we’ll have to stay in touch so you can give us updates, because that sounds so cool. And I think is so inspiring for our families and kids that we work with and anyone with a hearing loss or any other difference that like, this is what is possible. And I love what you were saying about how the sport just kind of brings everybody together.

Dave:
Yeah, it’ll be interesting. Right. Olympics are going on right now, and you’ve got to just a great sense of pride and seeing the individual, achievements and the individual successes, the teams coming together to battle, compete, and fight for one another. You see, across the world, everybody, is putting forth their best, right? Putting forth their best effort, putting forward the people that can Excel or succeed in, in chosen sports. And it really is. It’s amazing. I’m just a big fan of people. I love success. I love success stories. If it’s climb a mountain, go climb the highest mountain. If it’s write a poem, I want people to have, tears at the end of it. So I just like success. I feel like coaching gives me that opportunity to inspire and encourage others. And, mine is not soccer specific, it’s just in general in life. I love to see people succeed. And the Olympics is just a broader version of what I’ve got to experience from a soccer standpoint, but yeah, really, really excited to have that opportunity next year.

Wendy:
So you talked about how you sort of structure setting up a game and what happens on the field. What other differences do you see in coaching, the, the deaf soccer team versus your regular coaching job?

Dave:
I’ll kind of go back to the first camp.I worked in Dallas, Texas, and, and I was younger as a coach. And so I was really excited, coaches and probably parents too. Right. We just want to fill our players. We want to fill our children with information. We’re excited. We want to share everything, give them all the answers whether they’re ready for the, or not, whether they can process all the information or not. But I had set up a little exercise. I had put some cones down and, I had different color cones so that everybody knew who was on what team and explained everything interpreter had gone through. And, we’ve kind of walked through the exercise. They explained it. I asked if anyone had any questions and everybody kind of looks there’s no, no, no questions. Everybody gets up to go onto the field. And as a coach and probably, you know, we do it as parents, but we’re like, “oh, wait, one more thing.” And as they turned to walk away, I go, “wait, one more thing!”, Everybody keeps walking. There’s no way to recapture. They’re assuming we’re done. And they’re ready to go play the game. I want to share more information. It was a great check for me because I learned that one, when you have a captive audience, you have to give the information. Once you’re done, it’s time to let them go. And, really you have to be efficient with what you’re saying. And because you can’t just hold people there and, continue to give them the A and the B to C the D all the way through. And so it was great for me, I became a better coach to that moment because I realized, give information, let the player go play and work. And so it becomes more of a relational. I give the opportunity, um, make some suggestions, give some instruction and let them go. And then now it’s feedback, let them play the game out a little bit and come back. So it was a great moment for me. I actually became a better coach for my other teams, because of that moment,

Haley:
Such a good point, I know you brought it up earlier, when they take off their implants or their hearing aids, and they kind of just go out onto the field and they figure it out. And as educators for children, with hearing loss, we’re always talking about, self-advocacy, if you can’t hear in this moment, what can you do to fix it? What can you do to hear better? Or you pick up on non verbal communication. And they learn that, you get to tell them what they need to know. They go out in that field and it’s kind of like a sink or swim, like figure it out. You have to react to it. And I think that’s a really important piece to bring up, especially for our parents, that they’re going to figure it out. They will, you just have to trust them. And it’s a trial and error, whether it’s on the field or in the classroom.

Dave:
I’ll go back to, you know, coaching is teaching, teaching parenting, we’re instructing, we’re giving information. There’s a release from a trust standpoint, you have to allow the player or you have to allow your child to experience. And I know we never want anyone to feel pain and we never want the discomfort, but there’s learning in there. There’s growth in there. And so, as long as it’s a safe environment, I feel like sports , is a great place to fail. It’s a great place to learn, learn a lot about yourself and overcome the obstacle. How hard do you want to work to overcome whatever that situation is? How do you rely on the other aspects of who you are to solve a problem? So in soccer, we talk about being aware or being alert. And so for some of the things that we’ll do in a, in a training camp, we’ll give some of the information, but I won’t give all the information. Here’s two or three things that I’m looking for as a coach. Now, can you go out and problem solve? And it really forces players to not necessarily verbally communicate with one another, but then be aware of where they are, spacial awareness, their relation to one another, visually, can we start to see or have an idea of where the ball’s going to go, what the next action is going to be? And I think that’s huge from a success standpoint, just in terms of a young person, Hey, we’re going to get in what’s going on. I might not have all the information, but what can I take? I always tell people, kids are smart. Like I’ll work with a lot of young kids in in my job. But my youth experience is I’ll work with players from seven years old, all the way up to 17. Every single age, those players have the ability to problem solve. They don’t need the information given to them. And so our job as coaches, teachers, parents is really to create the safe environment, to allow them to experience that success and failure and failure is learning and growth. And then the success is obviously building the confidence, but it’s a great environment to allow an individual to learn a lot about themselves and then how they interact with players around them.

Wendy:
I think that’s so important for parents in general, anybody to hear, but like you said we are so cautious with our kids. I’m more cautious. I think with the kids that I work with, I just am a little nervous about them going out into the world and I’m not even their parents. So I can’t imagine what our parents feel like, but just to give them the space and, and let them know that they can trust their children and their children have to learn for themselves how to succeed and how to fail and learn from those things.

Dave:
Yeah and I think our job is to create the safety in the environment, right. Because it’s not just, “Hey honey, I need you to take the bus to city hall and, kind of figure it out.” The athletic piece, the academic piece, right? It might be writing a paper, it might be drawing a picture. We’re not going to tell you what to draw and how to draw and how to shade and how to color. We want that individual brilliance, that individual creativity, but our job as, as coaches, teachers, parents is really to create a safe environment to allow them to fail in. Right. And I feel like if we can create that environment that gives the individual or the youth, the best chance to succeed, they get the best feeling or satisfaction of their accomplishment, as opposed to “I did everything that mom said” and look at what I did. You know, the same way a child learns to tie their shoe for the first time and how excited they are to do that. Or my daughter, when she can do a round off, the Olympics is on right now. She thinks she’s going to be in the Olympics. Before I left to meet with you, to do the podcast, “daddy, please watch this.” And I have to stop for a second and watch, and it’s a round off. And it’s the same round off that we saw last night before she went to bed and the same round off she did in the backyard yesterday morning. But again, that sense of accomplishment, achievement, my job is to celebrate her give her the safety that she feels like she can go out and excel and do some pretty neat things.

Haley:
Well, it’s empowering, you’re giving them a chance to feel empowered. They did it, you created the environment, but then they were able to reach those goals or be successful or whatever it may be.

Wendy:
I like that word that you’re using safety as well, because it also, to me implies that like it’s safe for them not to be perfect. To give kids that, that safety of this can turn out, however it’s going to, and that’s okay.

Dave:
From a coaching standpoint, the higher the level you get to like it or not, it’s about, it’s a results driven, um, you know, world that we’re living in. And as you go out onto the international stage, we go to a competition and the goal is to win and we want to position our players to succeed. And we want to give them everything we can. I believe you can teach that at a younger age, but you have to be mindful of what’s the bigger picture. And so kind of walking, walking back as you start to work with younger players, as you start to work with different athletes, it’s really equipping them, with the idea that they can be successful. And they’re not always going to be right. You play a game and guess what somebody is going to win and somebody going to lose. I’m okay with that, you know, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes as I’ve come along as a coach, I’ve continued to learn. I believe it’s important to be a lifelong learner. And everything that I read is just about that growth, that loss is not the defining moment that just happens to be the lesson. And now how we move forward from that, what we take away from that is really more important. It’s not necessarily a win or loss, but how do we grow? You know, how do we become bigger, better? Based on the experience that we have at,

Haley:
I liked that you made that analogy because my mind immediately went to hearing loss. We look at that as such a negative thing, or people outside of the deaf world might look at that as something that’s, hindering, but it’s, you take it as it is. And you move on from there, you know, once you get that diagnosis or once you enter these school programs, or once you get on a team, it’s yeah, it might be tricky at first, but let’s move from there.

Dave:
That to me is the binding piece, right? So just as a society, everybody has strengths, and everybody has differences. Everybody’s unique, right? I’m a big believer that we all have individual talents, abilities and things that make us special. And so you can look at a specific situation and you can you focus on maybe the thing you don’t have, or you can say, what’s the opportunity? What can I do, right. I want to do the absolute best, every single thing that I have available to me. And so that’s the exciting part, right? That’s the achievement part is, is that you can overcome the defining thing, but that doesn’t define you. Right? So that’s the thing that separates me, but that’s not the thing that stops me. And so it is, it’s really exciting,, I can look at my personal life and say, well, you know what, there’s lots of things that I don’t have. There’s lots of things that others have that I don’t, there’s things that people have access to that I don’t, but at the end of the day I’m focused on how I can have an impact, could I, as a soccer coach say, well, “I only coach, seven year olds. Well, I want to coach older kids.” No, I’m going to coach the seven year old to be the absolute best they possibly can because that seven year old will be the 17 year old. And is that 17 year old, in their own Olympics at some point in time. And so I’ve had a small piece of that. And so just being really, um, excited about the moment that you’re in the lesson, that you’re going to be learning. And when we do that we can have a huge impact on ourselves and those around us,

Haley:
That was a beautiful way to put that. You’re saying, I can look at what I don’t have, or I can look at what I have and use it as a driving force. Have you really noticed any differences in your athletes who are deaf or who have a hearing loss and how they learn and perform, have you noticed, you know, they might say, “oh, I don’t have this,” but it could be an advantage on the field.

Dave:
I think the players that I have an opportunity, to coach mentor work with are some of the strongest or some of the most loyal, or some of the most caring and some of the most loving people. Some are high achieving. Some are fantastic at the sport. Others are in a more developmental stage. Um, but just the genuineness, I think that, you know, they have an understanding of who they are, right. They’re special, they’re unique. And so the hearing impairment or hearing loss does not define them. You can not put them into one specific box and say, this is who you are. This is what you’re going to achieve. And so I will work with younger players that are playing on their club teams. This past camp, we had eight players that were 19 or younger, and they’re all playing at different levels, across, you know, different states across the country. And it’s exciting to me, they’re not playing on a deaf team at their deaf school. The better bulk of them are mainstream. They’re playing on competitive teams, the other millions of kids in the United States. And so they are stepping out and just competing. And for somebody else, that’s maybe a little older, they graduated college, they’ve started their own business. And they’re successful from a business standpoint, somebody else, married their college sweetheart, and now they’ve started a family and they’ve got two beautiful children, fantastic family. And so I feel like I learn from them that, again, there’s no limits. There are not, I mean, are there obstacles? Yes. A hundred percent. There are obstacles every single day, but there’s no limit on the achievement piece and on the success piece, because really we get to define that, right? What do I, what do I want? Go get it, you know, who do I want to surround myself with? And how will they help me achieve, but even better, how can I help someone else achieve? Right. And some of the great greatest growth moments are when you encourage and empower and uplift other people. So it’s not about me and maybe my problem. It’s how can I impact somebody around me and how can I come alongside somebody? And we experienced sadness as a team, as an organization. We have guys that run into issues, you know, health wise that have really serious complications. We have family problems, relational problems and so it’s not just rosy glasses and everything’s wonderful. It’s real, but we can come alongside and we can see the victory and we can see the growth in those tough moments as well. I know I’m, you know, Mr. Positive, my wife says I always carry balloons and cupcakes

Wendy:
I was just thinking. Dave, are you available at 5:00 AM? Chicago time to call me every morning because I feel like my outlook on life and on my day would be so much more positive if you just give me a call and remind me of all this every morning. Yeah. That’s awesome. And again, I just think I’m so excited. We got to talk to you because I think this is really important for families to hear and for other professionals to have these really high expectations for our kids, and not focus on their hearing loss, but on everything else about them as a person. So, one other question that I have is, so you’ve been coaching the US Deaf soccer team for 10 years. Have you seen any changes over those past 10 years in terms of technology, communication? Have you noticed anything over those last 10 years evolve or change?

Dave:
I haven’t noticed a ton of changes just because everything I do is really relational. So it’s, you know, people are still people, people are going to be people that’s not, that’s not going to change. If I was in maybe more of an education setting, business, setting technology sector, I think you’d see amazing advancements, specifically with coaching, you know, it’s really just individual interaction. I don’t notice a lot. We don’t have access to a lot of extra, um, you know, just pieces or maybe things that we would be available to us. So at the end of the day, it’s, you know, it’s me pouring into an individual and it’s them giving their best effort, it’s sweat equity and it’s work. So I haven’t noticed any, culturally societaly, I think there’s huge changes and advancements and fantastic things happening every day. I just roll a ball out I’m out on the grass and the dirt playing with, you know, playing with everybody. Well,

Wendy:
Maybe that’s just what it comes down to. Right. It’s just, everybody is a person.

Haley:
I think you’re like the perfect example to have on this podcast, because I think a lot of parents and children as they get older might have some reservations of how do you think I will be viewed, or my child will be viewed if they join these teams, you know, if they are the only one with hearing loss. And so I think having you on here and just saying like, it is relational. That doesn’t mean anything because it doesn’t matter who can hear who, when you go out on that field, that matters how you play and how you connect with your teammates. So kind of off of that, what advice do you have for other coaches who may be working with athletes that have a hearing loss or other differences? Is there anything that you would want to say or offer up to kind of help coaches understand a little bit more?

Dave:
I love the fact that you’re encouraging of me, right? Like my positivity specifically in dealing with the hearing impaired, I am super self-conscious, right, because I want to sign, but I’m scared. And so I want to, and I try, and the players will make fun of me, but because we have that bond and that trust, then that becomes kind of a give and take thing. But what I would say to coaches is, you know, is your athlete wants to learn just like everybody else, your athlete wants the information, just like everybody else. And our job as coaches is to share the information and that might not look the same. So how we coach, yes, you can coach in a team setting. Yes, you can give team, you know, specific instruction and maybe ideas strategy. Um, but at the end of the day, my job is to, is to put the information in front of the athlete so that they can receive it and then kind of learn from it. And so I have to recognize the individual differences. And so even if I’ll go back to my regular team here in Oklahoma, how I coached 17 players, if I’m doing my job to the best of my ability, I’m not just throwing blanket statements out to 17 players. We have players that have that same happy, positive attitude. We have players that maybe have a little edge a little chip on their shoulder. We have players that maybe might be a little skeptical. We have players that are drawing from past or previous experience that maybe weren’t good. You maybe have players that are dealing with other things that as they come into soccer, that may be that, coach soccer, right. But, you know, I’m having a really tough, you know, I’m struggling in my math class and, you know, I really need to get my grades up so that I can qualify to get into college. So everybody’s going to bring different things into the, the team setting. And it’s our job as coaches and educators to find the way that our athlete can get the information. How can I present it? How can I help them learn? Some are visual, some are verbal. When we have our deaf camps and we all come together and we’ve talked about a little bit, some are going to read lips, others are going to rely on the interpreter. Some will, pick the information up. Some will wait, and they’ll be more comfortable talking to a fellow deaf player because there’s a trust piece there. Okay, I didn’t want to ask the question because I don’t want to feel singled out, but I’ll wait until a water break or I’ll wait until we walk out onto the field and maybe they’ll go to that person that they’re comfortable or confident with. They’ve built that rapport with. And so all of the information shared, but, we have to make sure that we’re helping individually. Can we get that to each individual? Long answer to a short question, but as coaches, our job is to figure it out our jobs, to figure out how our job as a teacher is to figure it out. How do I give the exact not the same information, but how do I give the exact opportunity or the same opportunity to the individual? And if, and if I’m giving of myself, if I’m doing my absolute best, that’s going to be reciprocated that athlete, that student is going to do the exact same thing.

Wendy:
Well, I think that is sort of the, the ideal place to end on such a positive note and that’s really great advice. I think not just for, like you said, coaches, but us as educators and parents. So Dave, thank you so much for joining us today. It was a really great conversation, very inspiring. We are super excited to follow you and your team at the Deaf Olympics, in Brazil in May, we’re going to put a link to the website in our show notes. We will expect some updates from you. And thank you so much for being here with us. This was a really great conversation.

Haley:
Thank you, again, you do radiate positivity. And I think that this was such a good episode for our parents to hear. And I just can’t wait to see where you take the team. So thank you for joining us on another episode of All Ears at Child’s Voice, be sure to join us for our next episode. We release episodes once monthly

Wendy:
Follow us and this podcast on Instagram with the handle @childsvoicepodcast.

Haley:
We’d love to hear from you. So please send us an email at podcast at childsvoice.org, and you can find episodes, show notes and archive episodes at our Child’s Voice website, childsvoice.org.

Wendy:
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Haley:
Thanks for listening. Bye.

Wendy:
Bye.

Dave:
Bye.

Haley:
And that’s all! Be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you listen so you don’t miss any episodes. If you are interested in supporting Child’s Voice and the programs like this one, please visit us at childsvoice.org and click on the Donate Now button. Thanks for listening. Bye!

Children:
Bye, thanks for listening!