Hard work pays off for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf
St. Mary’s School for the Deaf was awarded the Division 2 Deaf National Championship by the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association. It's the first time in about 20 years that the Bison have earned the honor.
"We've really worked hard for four years to build towards this success," Bison coach Bryan Booke said. "It's taken a while, but we stayed on course. We have four seniors and they have very high goals. They really wanted this to be a great season."
Schools are nominated to the NDIAA and records against other deaf schools as well as hearing opponents are considered. Success in national and local tournaments as well as the postseason is also a factor.
"It certainly gives our program a lot of credibility," Booke said. "Being recognized nationally gives us validity and respect."
In addition, senior Crystle Marion was named the National Deaf Player of the Year by the NDIAA. It's the latest in the long line of accomplishments for the standout center, who set the Western New York all-time scoring record this season. She finished with 2,527 points in a career, which started in 2007-08.
"That's just icing on the cake," Booke said. "It's a great honor for her and she deserves it. But I think her main focus is being a team champion. That's what means the most to her."
Marion broke the scoring record of 2,420 points, held by Samantha Kopp of Franklinville, during a February IAC contest against Park. That was one of many highlight moments for St. Mary’s School for the Deaf this season.
The Bison finished the season 11-6 and reached the Independent Athletic Conference semifinals. Among the other highlights included a third straight championship at the Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association Division II Tournament, which was held Feb. 10 and 11 in Delaware.
“It was a great season for the girls,” Booke said. “They’re very happy with this honor. It’s something they all worked very hard for and they deserve this.”
Marion is one of four seniors on the squad, along with guards Sarah Flowers, Suada Abdulkadir and Jessie O’Brien. The Bison also got huge contributions from junior forwards Andrea Lewis and Rebecca Swiatek, sophomore forward Dinahliz Quinones and guard Shakenya Ward-Brassell as well as freshman guard Vaughntasia Hawkins.
Front Row from left to right: Asst. Coach: Wendy Chuba, Rebecca Swiatek, Andrea Lewis, Crystle Marion, Sarah Flowers, Dinahliz Quinones, Vaughntasia Hawkins, Head Coach: Bryan Booke. Second Row from left to right: Shakenya Ward-Brassell & Suada Abdulkadir.