Sammy Oates, Jr.
Head Football Coach, Michigan School for the Deaf
On October 10, 2013, Michigan School for the Deaf had cause for celebration. The Tartars, MSD's football squad, beat New Haven Merritt Academy 50-26, breaking a 35-year losing streak. Although Sammy Oates, Jr., MSD's Head Football Coach, insisted that the players deserved recognition, he likewise deserves it. No one was more stunned, or prouder.
Oates is the son of Sammy Oates, Sr., the legendary Deaf ahlete whose exploits were recounted in DEAF LIFE's December 2010 issue. Although Sammy Jr. would insist that he wasn't in the same league as his father, he has nonetheless been an outstanding athlete and winning coach. He graduated from Texas School for the Deaf, excelling in football, swimming, and softball. He benefited from having his father's mentoring, and several fine coaches there.
Last year, he took the post of Head Football Coach at MSD, starting out at summer football camp and continuing through the Fall semester. He made a checklist of all the goals he wanted the Tartars to accomplish, with touchtowns and sacks. At the end was "WIN THE GAME," a goal he thought it would take a couple years to accomplish. But the Tartars did it in one season.
Oates gives his players credit, noting that their shared language, American Sign Language, made the task of learning, growing, and overcoming weaknesses easier. He was able to communicate his wealth of experiernce and knowledge of the game to them without barriers. They didn't want to wait until next year to check off that last item on the checklist . . . they wanted to do it now. And they did.
Oates says, "I will continue to work as Athletic Directror and Head Football Coach because I am looking at many young players with several projects." He thanks his "super suppoters" on the MSD administration, alumni association, and his assistant coaches. They have all shared this historic victory.
Now, on to next year . . . and more victories!