MSSD Cheerleading Squad Brings Home Clerc Classic XI Trophy
CLERC CLASSIC XI
Basketball Tournament and Cheerleading Competition
The Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) cheerleading squad proudly brought home the first place team trophy from this year’s Clerc Classic XI hosted January 13-15 by the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin. Three of the MSSD students made the All-Tournament teams—Adele Fass and Mohamed Kamara for basketball and Seth Washington for cheerleading.
“This is my second year as a cheerleading coach and Mr. Ayala’s first,” said coach Emilia Nowalski. The experience we had at the Clerc Classic was amazing. We all worked hard as a team. I was really proud of them! The challenge [in preparing for the tournament] that I faced was one of enough practice time. Mr. Ayala and I strongly believe in academic success—we strive to make sure our students do well in school. Also, we make sure they finish their homework before participating in cheerleading!”
The teams competing in this year’s Clerc Classic came from across the country. They included the Alabama School for the Deaf, the Arkansas School for the Deaf, the California School for the Deaf (Fremont and Riverside), the Indiana School for the Deaf, The Learning Center (Framingham, Massachusetts), the Maryland School for the Deaf, MSSD, and the Texas School for the Deaf. The competition for both basketball and cheerleading was keen. MSSD cheerleader Brandon Johnson shared his experience: “Our toughest competitor was the Indiana School for the Deaf. They have good forms [formations]. During the competition, I kept thinking about winning first place. I had to make myself stop and think to use the right process of dance, cheer, chant, and teamwork. I was nervous that some of the schools used better forms—they did a great job. They were really cool in their own way. I didn’t expect for our cheerleaders to win first place. I was so happy!”
MSSD cheerleader Katryna Baldiviez shared her thoughts, “It was an honor to be able to go to Texas and compete. Once we got on the mat, there were a lot of people cheering for us. We practiced so hard just for a two-minute-and-thirty-second show … but once they announced who won the championship ... the practice was so worth it. It’s not the glitz of the uniform that matters but the spirit that shines within it.”
The Clerc Classic originated at MSSD under former athletic director Michael Weinstock, who envisioned a national basketball tournament bringing together outstanding athletes from top deaf schools to one site to compete for a championship title. The tournament typically occurs during the second weekend of January. It is named in honor of Laurent Clerc (1785-1869), who is well-known for his contributions to the development of American Sign Language and deaf education. Clerc, along with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, founded the American School for the Deaf—the first school for the deaf in the United States.