OK School for the Deaf cheerleader first to make All-State team
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma School for the Deaf senior Keith Montrell Adams from Tulsa is the first OSD student ever selected to Oklahoma’s All State Cheerleading Team.
Oklahoma Coaches Association Executive Director Milt Bassett confirmed Adams’ groundbreaking accomplishment.
“We were tickled when we saw Montrell Adams was selected,” Bassett said. “The Oklahoma Coaches Association stands for athletics, and this just goes to show that anybody who is a top athlete can achieve something great, regardless of their disability.”
The School for the Deaf is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
OSD head cheerleading Coach and high school special needs teacher Karlie Campbell asked Adams, age 18, to try out for the team.
He successfully competed in cheer, jumps and tumbling categories against 38 cheerleaders at the regional selection competition in Washington, Oklahoma on October 27.
Adams then progressed to All State selection try-outs for the west squad in Jenks on November 11. Sixty-four cheerleaders tried out in Jenks for the east and west squads. Adams was among the 16 competitors selected for the All State Cheerleading Team.
“Everything was an individual competition – the opportunity was the same,” Adams explained. “The first one was cheer. They give you the words. You make up your own cheer. After that everybody took their turn.
“The second was jump competition. You have to do specific jumps.
“The third was tumbling -- standing tuck, back handsprings and running tumbling and with a back tuck connected.
“I was shocked -- it was amazing,” he said. “I was able to show everybody that a deaf person can do it. The hearing people were all watching. The communication was there. It was a real feeling of unity.”
In addition to cheer squad, Adam plays basketball and runs track at OSD. He was the football team manager and is a student ambassador, a member of National Honor Society and a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
As a participant in Leadership Murray County, he joins other students with the qualities and the potential to become leaders from schools in Davis & Murray counties.
Adams transferred to OSD from his local school in Tulsa four and a half years ago.
“It is a huge difference,” he said. “With public school, I wasn’t involved hardly at all. There were opportunities, but they were limited -- just too many people.
“Here at OSD, I feel a strong connection like family. Everybody signs. It’s so positive. These are experiences I will carry into my future. Here there are no limits, no barriers, so I can be involved in whatever I want to. Whether you excel or not, you still have the opportunity, and everybody helps you here and works with you.”
Coach Campbell is proud of her star cheerleader and student leader.
“Montrell has worked really hard,” she said. “He started not being able to do some of the tumbling, jumping and cheer routines, but I knew he was capable of doing it because he was willing to put in the time and effort.”
Assistant coach and speech language pathologist Jennifer Power added, “We wanted him to be scored just like everybody else, so Montrell had to overcome his fear to voice in front of a crowd when he doesn’t always do that.
“We wanted him to make it because he’s a great cheerleader. He got out there just like everybody else.”
Adams, his coaches and fans are looking forward to the All State competitions July 24-29. All the games will take place in the Tulsa area. Students selected for all state in any sport will practice together in a week-long camp before the east and west teams compete.
Adams will perform with the cheerleading team during the All State football, and girls and boys basketball games.
“I feel strongly with hard practice that more deaf students can make All State teams,” he said. “Everybody has a chance.”
The Oklahoma School for the Deaf has achieved a 100 percent graduation rate for five years. Students must meet all graduation requirements established by the state. In 2014, 235 students lived at the school during the week, commuted from home or attended summer school classes. OSD operates two satellite preschools at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and the University of Arts and Sciences of Oklahoma in Chickasha. As a statewide resource center, OSD provides thousands of free evaluations and direct services each year for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, their families, public school educators and professionals working with those students.
For more information, phone (580) 622-4900 or (888) 685-3333 toll free or visit the website at www.osd.k12.ok.us .