FREDERICK, Md. – When the news finally came, she couldn’t stop smiling. And who could blame her?
Grace women’s basketball player Lauren Godfrey fulfilled a longtime dream this week when she was selected to the USA Deaf Women’s Basketball Team.
After a grueling three-day tryout process, Godfrey made the cut. She will now represent the red, white and blue on Team USA at the 2017 Deaflympics.
“It still seems unreal that all of this has happened,” Godfrey said. “I just feel very blessed that I even had the opportunity to do what I got to do. I was able to accomplish one of my biggest dreams.”
Godfrey was born completely deaf. She received a cochlear implant in her right ear when she was just 18 months old.
Most of the players at the invite-only tryout had a hearing aid, according to Godfrey, but some had no hearing whatsoever.
As a result, Godfrey had to learn to communicate in different ways. Godfrey, who does not sign, often caught herself mesmerized during the tryout by how well the players managed to convey their message.
“I caught on pretty quickly how to get their attention if I needed to talk to them. I couldn’t just say ‘hey’ and they would look at me. I had to wave at them, tap them on the shoulder or stomp my foot on the ground so they could see the movement or feel the vibration.”
While communication proved to be a learning experience on the court for Godfrey, she recognized how it bonded the group as well. “We just got along so well. We had to communicate a lot so that helped us become closer. All I can think about right now is how amazing the last three days with the girls were.”
The Deaflympics, held every four years, date back to 1924 and are the longest running multi-sport event excluding the Olympics.
Team USA is coached by Laura Edwards, who has over two decades of coaching experience and led the squad to gold at the 2015 World Deaf Basketball Championships in Taiwan.
Godfrey noted that many of the players that made the cut were on the 2015 gold-medal winning team. The group will practice more next summer in a training camp to prepare for the 2017 Deaflympics.
“I just wanted to be able to show people that they can accomplish anything if they put their mind to it; we can overcome obstacles in our lives if we really push past them,” Godfrey said. “I wanted to do it so I could give all the glory back to God for what He has blessed me with.”