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Archers Conduct Clinics for Deaf Students

October 24, 2011

Courtney Kleffner  
Courtney Kleffner, a sophomore on the St. Louis Community College volleyball team, demonstrates serve technique to Francisco Mendez during a clinic conducted by the volleyball squad for Deaf students who will be competing in Harper College's Coed Volleyball Tournament in April.

If St. Louis Community College’s entries do well in the Harper College Deaf program’s eighth annual Coed Volleyball Tournament in April, they can credit the STLCC women’s volleyball team with a valuable assist.

The Archer players and coaches have conducted several volleyball clinics for the Deaf students who will be forming two teams that will compete in the tournament that features high school and college teams.

“The guys were watching the college’s team play, and they saw that they could learn from the players,” said Loretto Freeman, a professional interpreter who also interprets part time at STLCC.

The team rosters will feature students who attend STLCC-Florissant Valley through the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development (SEED) program. The program supports economic and social development throughout Central America and the Caribbean. SEED scholarships provide training to youth and community leaders from economically disadvantaged and historically underserved populations, including women and ethnic/Indigenous groups, to become key protagonists in their countries' development. Countries currently participating in the program are the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Program participants who came to STLCC-Florissant Valley in 2010 are Deaf.

In 2010, the STLCC entry won the Sportsmanship Award, and also boasted two Most Valuable Player Award winners in Francisco Mendez and Beth Havens. Mendez will be playing again in April.

“Many of the SEED students are back, and those who came to the tournament were like, ‘We are so playing,’” said Freeman, who has coached participating teams for several years. “Several others went as fans last year and decided that they could play this next year. A couple of our Deaf Student Association members will be playing, and others are coming just as fans. They are all very excited.”

The clinics have served as a learning lab of sorts for Courtney Kleffner, a sophomore hitter/setter from Rockwood Summit who is in the deaf communication studies program at Florissant Valley.

“I know sign language, but having an interpreter working along with us has helped, too,” said Kleffner, who previously has coached grade school and junior high students. “It’s more about body position and showing them how their bodies need to move. That’s what I’ve been doing, and that seems to work. It’s a little difficult because some of these players don’t know anything about the game, and you have to literally teach from square one. It’s easier when they know a little more, but difficult to change the way they do some things, especially serving. I really enjoy working with them.”

Archers coach Johnna Kinney said her players also have benefited from the clinics.

“We started with game basics – passing, setting, a little bit on hitting, serve receive and serving,” she said. “It also helps them break down the game. I can see that my players are thinking, ‘We need to remember to do that.’ They all have really had a good time doing these clinics.”