Leading the Bison Charge!

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Esther of the Holy Bible was a queen and a heroine. She famously saved her people (the Jews) from annihilation. The only thing stranger than the plot twists in this story is the fact that it's ACTUALLY TRUE!!! Esther Drake, on the other hand, is not a monarch and I don't know if she's ever saved anyone's life. While that is not exactly a glowing endorsement (and anticlimactic), I am PROUD to say she's my FRIEND!!!

Just over 3 years ago, I asked Esther Drake to show me to Gallaudet University's library so I could study Deaf Culture. She and her son Jeremiah (future Gallaudet football and basketball star) escorted me first to the exhibit in the Edward Miner Gallaudet building, then to the Merrill Learning Center (campus library). Since then, I've spent hundreds of hours in the building named after Gallaudet's fourth president reading dozens of books about Deaf History, written my Buff and Blue (BnB) articles there, and composed this post in my favorite spot there. It's the very building in which Esther and I had a fateful conversation.

At the end of the Fall 2014, I was doing some research for a BnB article (that never materialized, but I hope to revive at some point) and saw Esther. I told her about what I was working on. She asked me if I wanted to write a book. I replied that I didn't want to, not because I don't think I'm capable of doing so, but I don't think that's the best outlet for my writing talent.

Fast forward several weeks, maybe about a month, to Friday, December 19th. I was talking with an acquaintance about how I needed to use my writing skills to enter some scholarship contests. I showed him my very first BnB article, "Gallaudet's Finest". He was impressed. He said he had some papers he wanted me to look at and maybe come up with something. His dad was a World War II veteran who died a few years back, but had left behind some records.  I excitedly replied, "You want me to write something up for you?!?" At this point I just thought he wanted me to write something for his personal records or his family's records. He said, "Yeah, and whatever happens, I just want 5%." I said, "You want me to write a book?!?" I couldn't believe it!!! Just a few weeks earlier, Esther had asked me if I wanted to write a book. She had gone from being a friend to also being a prophet! Naturally, she was one of the first people I told.

Now, this is an AMAZING opportunity!! I've met my acquaintance's mother and been to their house where I looked over some of their records. I'm not sure, however, if I will write the book. Why? Because it would be a very time consuming process and would no doubt consume time I could otherwise be spending with the Deaf Community. Whether I write the book or not, I will ALWAYS be most proud of my writing to, for, and about the Deaf Community whether it's my BnB articles, this blog, or future endeavors, because THAT is where my heart is!!!

So, Esther Drake will probably not have a book of the Bible named after her. (I think that's pretty much done.) She probably won't be a queen and may never save a life (if she already hasn't). But for the last 5 years, she has been MY FRIEND, which was more than enough!! Now, she's also a PROPHET! So as a belated birthday gift, THANK YOU ESTHER!!!

*I am dedicating this post to Esther Drake and EVERYONE who has encouraged me through both my signing and writing. Although Esther is the subject of this article, I am grateful to the dozens of people who have supported me over the last 6 years!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


BISON ROCK!!! I have been blessed to be surrounded by some amazing, talented, intelligent people. Each year, I enjoy dedicating a blogpost to recognizing the accomplishments of BISON I know personally. It just so happens that each of the BISON I am honoring this year are part of my favorite team, the Gallaudet University Women's Basketball Team and one is a former member. It is my great pleasure to feature 4 friends in this post: recent Gallaudet grads Lane Peters and Nikkia Smith, along with Zamica Gage who was named to the USA National Team for the World Deaf Basketball Championship. I am also including former Galluadet baller Kari Olney who is getting married shortly.

Lane Peters just wrapped up her undergrad studies with a Bachelor's in Sociology from Gallaudet. Although she was a key player on the basketball team, she is a volleyball player at heart. You DO NOT want to be on the opposite side of the net from her!!! She is an absolute MONSTER on the volleyball court and was MVP for the 2013 North Eastern Athletic Conference tournament and 2013-2014 Student Athlete of the Year when she played volleyball, basketball, AND ran track!!! Her presence on the basketball court will be sorely missed not only because she was the lone 6-footer, but more importantly because of her production. As a co-captain this year as she led the team in rebounds (5th in the conference), recorded 5 double-doubles, and was named the team's Most Outstanding Player. Lane, I know I have teased you for being "so volleyball", but you HANDLE BUSINESS on the basketball court as well!! I wish I was there to see the NASTY block Zamica told me you had on the road against Cazenovia!! I was initially surprised when I saw your name on the basketball roster in Fall 2013, but I'm a believer now. Because of you, I have developed greater respect for volleyball and even enjoyed several games at the Field House. You, my friend, are a cool chick and a TRUE BALLER!!!  

Nikkia Smith has faithfully served as a graduate assistant alongside Head Coach Stephanie Stevens for the last 2 years and the ONLY assistant coach for the last year and a half. She's a newly minted Gallaudet graduate with a  Master's in Public Education. She was the all-time leading scorer for her high school (boys and girls teams) and went onto a NCAA Division I career at the University of Hartford where she was named team MVP as a senior along with numerous other awards. She has been involved with Deaf basketball camps for several years. She has been a key factor in the monumental improvements the team has made over the last 2 seasons. Nikkia, your leadership has been vital to the team's success and is irreplaceable. I personally have enjoyed chatting with you from time to time. Your competence, intelligence, and confidence will serve you well in your future endeavors!!!

The ZAMMER, the ZAMINATOR, or just ZAM! Zamica Gage was named to the USA National Team this year for the World Deaf Basketball Championship that will take place in Taipei, Taiwan July 4-12. After much deliberation, she recently decided not to play as other priorities require her attention. She began this season as a starting shooting guard and was moved to point guard in January. She led the team in scoring (10th in the conference) and steals (3rd in the conference) and fortunately has another year to go. Zam was named to the All-NEAC Second Team. She is RIDICULOUSLY talented in so many sports. Zam, I've had the wonderful opportunity of seeing you grow as a person, especially over the past year. You probably don't realize it, but YOU challenge ME to be a better person! I'm PROUD of you!!! I LOVE YOU, SIS!!!

I don't normally recognize impending marriages in my annual tribute post, but I am making an exception for Kari Olney, my Deaf Mom. Kari was my inspiration for learning ASL and my first ASL teacher. It's been 6 years and I've still probably learned more than half of the ASL I know from Kari, my ASL class at Gally notwithstanding. She's an INCREDIBLY patient teacher! Neither of us realized that she would open up a whole new world to me and change my life! I never had any interest in ASL or the Deaf Community before meeting Kari, but now I CAN'T GO BACK!! Even more important than that has been her friendship. YOU ROCK DEAF MOM!!!

Each of  these ladies has represented Gally with distinction and excellence!!  I have only listed a few of their accolades. They are proud to be BISON and Gallaudet is proud of them! Above and beyond their individual accomplishments and their contributions to the success of the BISON, I am particularly proud to call EACH of them my friend!!!


*You can read more about the team in "Leading the Bison Charge!". Just click on the title at the top of the page or simply clicking this link http://pardonmyasl.blogspot.com/p/lr.html