Gallaudet Rebounds from Defeat to Can't Be Beat

Gallaudet University, Kevin Cook
Gallaudet University's head coach Kevin Cook, center, uses sign language to give instructions to Nukeitra Hayes, of Anderson, Ind. left, and Easter Faafiti (33) of Pittsburg, Calif. during practice of Gallaudet's women basketball team, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
AP

WASHINGTON - With his team trailing and time running out last Sunday, Gallaudet Coach Kevin Cook didn't think his players would win, he knew they would, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

And then, 51-48, Gallaudet did win. They are now undefeated at 16-0, and could be the upstart team of the year. Just three years ago they lost a game by 75 points.

Every member on this team is either deaf or hard of hearing - but forget that, Cook says, they're incredibly tough athletes who decided this year to win.

"When we face any adversity they just find a way," Cook said.

Coach Cook himself is battling Parkinson's disease.

When the tension is highest, Cook's shaking left land stops him from calling plays in sign language.

His assistants do that for him. He estimates the communication delay can cost the team six points a game. But to the players, it is just another obstacle to knock down.

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"It doesn't bother us at all. He's just a coach who knows his stuff and we respect that," said Nukeitra Hayes through a translator.

If you think it's a disadvantage, when the entire team can't hear the coach change a play, or hear the ref's whistle, that just makes this team smile.

Easter Faafiti, the league's leading scorer, can't wait for an opponent to write her off because she's deaf.

"Sometimes I get really upset, 'You know what, I don't need to talk to you. I'll just show you on the basketball court,'" said Faafiti through a translator.

"I tell our group 'Yeah, it's not fair that you're deaf. I don't think it's fair that I have Parkinson's. But this is life guys. And were going to fight everything together,'" Cook said.

And now they've fought to 16-0.

The coach that can't stop shaking and the team that can't hear are unbeaten on the court by any other team - but they are unbeaten in life - by choice.

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.