Deaf Football Team Brings Pride to Riverside Community

A remarkable undefeated season for the California School for the Deaf football team brightens a community ravaged by the pandemic.,


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High school football players at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, during halftime of a playoff game on Friday. Credit…Adam Perez for The New York Times

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Every once in a while a story comes along that prompts a reporter to drop everything, cancel appointments, forget the notion of a weekend, hug family members goodbye — and dash.

For me that story was about a high school football team. Last week, I drove seven hours from my home in the East Bay to the California School for the Deaf, Riverside. I was not disappointed.

After a long string of losing seasons, the football team was undefeated and, for the first time in the school’s history, vying for the division championship. The article I wrote about the team, which is known as the Cubs, was published this week.

When I arrived at the campus, the school’s ebullient superintendent, Nancy Hlibok Amann, graciously gave me a tour. Through a sign language interpreter she told me about the team’s coach.

“His blood runs pigskin,” she said of Coach Keith Adams.


The team won by a score of 84-12.Credit…Adam Perez for The New York Times

That evening Coach Adams and his players pummeled their opponents in the second round of the playoffs. The lopsided result was not a surprise. The Cubs had outscored their opponents, 642-156, during the regular season, lifting the spirits of a community hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday I accompanied the players and coaches to the N.F.L. game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings, where stadium announcers celebrated the Cubs’ victories. Dressed in their red jerseys, they watched as their faces showed up on the enormous videoboard. Friends texted to say they had seen them on television.

There are many explanations for why the team is doing so well this year — the particular cohort of players is very talented, swift and disciplined. And the athletes play hard.

“I love being physical, the hard hits and the tackles,” said Tevin Adams, the team’s quarterback. He is also the coach’s son.


The Cubs attend the only all-deaf public school serving the southern half of California. The team’s success has given the school and the surrounding community a lift. Credit…Adam Perez for The New York Times

But what struck me most was how comfortable and confident the players seemed to be together as a deaf team with deaf coaches. It was their world on their terms.

When they were younger and played in hearing leagues, they were often put at nose tackle because the position required less communication. Now they played whatever position suited them best.

“They have a very special bond, a chemistry,” Amann told me. “They’re able to read each other.”

I asked Laura Edwards, the athletics supervisor at the school, about the longstanding debate over whether deaf children should attend mainstream institutions or all-deaf schools.

Edwards is deaf and was born into a hearing family. She told me that she recently brought an interpreter to a family gathering because she wanted to capture as many conversations as she could.

“Growing up as a deaf person I never went to a deaf school,” Edwards told me. “It was a struggle to make friends. It was very lonely.”


Wide receiver Joshua Cypert, left, conferring with defensive tackle Xavier Gamboa.Credit…Adam Perez for The New York Times

At the Riverside campus, Edwards says she watches deaf students who transferred from mainstream institutions blossom. “The communication barrier is eliminated and there is inclusion and social interaction.”

“Our student athletes are the same as any other hearing students in terms of physical and mental skills and athletic talents,” she texted me later. “The only difference is they are Deaf.”

Edwards noted that she had capitalized the word “Deaf.”

“It’s not a typo,” she said. “We have a culture of our own.”

Thomas Fuller is the San Francisco bureau chief for The New York Times.

If you read one story, make it this

Doing 300 minutes a week of moderate exercise may help ward off cancer.


Lake Hennessey, a water resevoir for the city of Napa in June.Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

The rest of the news

A dip in water conservation: Californians have been asked to reduce water use by 15 percent, but new data shows just a 4 percent drop, The Associated Press reports.

Boon for electric cars: The California Energy Commission approved a $1.4 billion plan to fund car charging stations or hydrogen refueling to help the state meet its climate goals, Reuters reports.

Boosters for all: The Food and Drug Administration could authorize booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for all adults as early as Thursday.

Biden withholds funding: Gov. Gavin Newsom initially expected that California would receive $9.5 billion for improved public transit from the new federal infrastructure plan. But the Labor Department says the state isn’t eligible for any of that money, LAist reports.


Drilling in Imperial Valley: A developer has begun digging for lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries, near the southern shore of the Salton Sea, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Unvaccinated and untested: Nearly a month after Los Angeles mandated that city workers either be vaccinated or regularly tested, no testing of unvaccinated workers has taken place, NBC Los Angeles reports.

Cyclist settlement: San Diego will pay nearly $24 million to a cyclist who was paralyzed after being hit by a car driven by an intoxicated driver, The Associated Press reports.


Mask order lifted: Stanislaus County stopped requiring all people to wear masks in indoor public settings, The Modesto Bee reports.


Weather warning: Light rain, breezy winds and a possible burst of snow are expected on Thursday and Friday in the Lake Tahoe area as well as parts of Lassen, Plumas, Sierra and Mono Counties.

A controversial housing proposal: Sacramento could become the first city in the nation to force homeless people to accept housing or shelter or be faced with forcible removal from public property, CapRadio reports.

Wrong dosage administered: A Sutter Health clinic in Antioch gave 14 children the wrong dose when administering pediatric Covid-19 vaccines, The Associated Press reports.


Credit…Evan Sung for The New York Times

What we’re eating

Twelve wines for Thanksgiving and beyond.


Thousands of people visit the South Yuba River State Park in Nevada County each year.Credit…Elias Funez/The Union, via Associated Press

Where we’re traveling

Today’s travel tip comes from June Oberdorfer, who recommends the newly restored covered bridge at the South Yuba River State Park in Nevada County:

The bridge, built in 1862 for transport from northern mines, was closed in 2011 for safety reasons. Due to a very active local citizens’ group (SOB: Save Our Bridge) that raised money and lobbied the Legislature for funding to restore the bridge, it was reopened on Nov. 4, 2021, to pedestrian traffic. The bridge is the longest-surviving single-span, wooden-covered bridge in the world. Its preservation is a wonderful legacy for many future generations.

In summer, small children play in the water along the sandy beach just downstream. Any time of year is a good time to hike the Buttermilk Bend Trail (which follows the path of an old water supply ditch) upstream or the Point Defiance Trail loop downstream, with views of the river around each curve.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

What you get

Will real estate ever be normal again?

And before you go, some good news

In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, you may be able to catch a stunning partial lunar eclipse.

The moon will slip into the earth’s shadow for three hours and 28 minutes, the longest partial eclipse in more than 500 years. The moon may even begin to glow red, reports

For West Coast skywatchers, the partial eclipse will begin just after 11 p.m. Thursday and reach a maximum at 1 a.m. Friday.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Thick clay pot (5 letters).

Soumya Karlamangla, Steven Moity and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at

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