New spin on visual communication

Life may bring obstacles, but a person that has a strong love for a sport will find a way to always play. Some people may let a disability hinder them, but point guard Arianna Lindsey does not let hers do harm.

When Lindsey was 2, she got sick from milk poisoning and it led to her hearing loss. She is completely deaf now.

After seeing her father playing basketball, she wanted to participate. Lindsey, who communicates in sign language, expresses her excitement and joy for the sport.

“When I saw my dad playing on the court, I just wanted to join in. I just thought it was interesting and I was really fascinated,” Lindsey said.

The junior high school Lindsey attended on the East Coast had a policy that allowed them to begin playing basketball at that grade level. However, according to Lindsey her coach noticed her and started her in fifth grade.

Despite Lindsey’s disability, her love and passion for basketball has remained her solid ground. She believes that sometimes life is a struggle and playing basketball comes with many obstacles.

According to Lindsey, moving quickly and communicating is something she struggles with occasionally. She wishes her teammates would learn a few signs for the game, but knows that it will take time.  

“I’m pretty experienced with that [basketball signals], so I dont think its any problem. It’s not a struggle at all,” Lindsey said. “Usually I just follow what’s going on and then they can show me what to do, it’s fine.”

Lindsey says women’s basketball coach Jim Couch is very encouraging. Even though Lindsey has been playing for a very long time, she is still learning new things.

Couch has been at Pierce for 17 years and believes that if a student athlete is a high achiever then they will achieve high on the court.

According to Couch, it is not his first time dealing with a disabled person. In 1998, he had a young lady with a hearing condition who played for him.

Couch described her as an “awesome 3-point shooter who did not need an interpreter.”

“She read lips pretty well. She felt vibrations on the floor. I stomped up and down the floor and I yelled a lot. She could feel it and responded very well.  She was a good player for me,” Couch said.

According to Couch, Lindsey has been playing for him for six months and has definitely improved. Lindsey said she has a pretty good 3-point shot and she brings that to the team.

“She has given 110 percent of her effort to be the best basketball player she can be,” Couch said. “I admire Arianna. I think there are a lot of kids who don’t realize what they have. I think that with her disability, she has learned how to play the game and how to play on the court.”

Lindsey said she brings a positive attitude to the team even though there is a communication barrier. She thinks that makes her unique. Couch agrees that she is firm in her process.

“I think she is a hard worker with a lot of drive and determination. She is determined and persistent and she definitely likes the game,” Couch said.

Talitha Draper, center, said it would be nice to learn American Sign Language to communicate with her because she is part of the team and she thinks it is impressive to play with that disability.

“I admire her. I think I have difficulties, but I don’t know what it’s like to be deaf and have those extra problems,” Draper said. “For her to come to school and play basketball is awesome. Everytime I get down on myself I just imagine her. You don’t ever see her complaining and throwing a fit.”

Lindsey is majoring in Kinesiology with an emphasis on sports medicine. She hopes to become a coach and learn about different sports and does not think missing a sense will be a problem at all.

“I think that I can just teach them and help them understand and I don’t think there will be any problem with it [understanding each other] once we learn to communicate,” Lindsey said.