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Scrimmage at Notre Dame gives hearing and deaf teams a chance to learn from each other

By Howard B. Owens

In the late 1960s, when David Pero played boys basketball for Notre Dame, one of the schools annual opponents that always presented a challenge was St. Mary's School for the Deaf out of Buffalo.

The boys played hard and and ran their plays with no verbal communication.

It was quite an experience, as Pero remembered it. As the girls basketball coach at Notre Dame, Pero thought his team should share the same experience.

"This is a life lesson," Pero said. "Our girls get a chance to see that people with disabilities might play the game differently, but it's the same game and they're just as aggressive as we are."

Notre Dame hosted a pre-season scrimmage tonight with St. Mary's, the Rochester School for the Deaf and Geneseo High School participating.

"We thought it would be a great experience for our kids, our girls, to have a scrimmage with hearing teams and with another deaf team," said Tim Kelly, St. Mary's superintendent. "All four schools are getting a great experience playing against schools they wouldn't necessarily play against."

Notre Dame and St. Mary's haven't played competitively against each other in years, since both left the Smith League. The Fighting Irish are now part of Section V and the Genesee Region. St. Mary's and Rochester School for the Deaf are independent teams.

"They were always, always a good basketball team," Pero said. "They would give you all you wanted. We probably only ever beat them, all the years we played them, by three, four, five points, because they always had very good teams."

The scrimmage was a great chance for the teams to learn from each other and about each other, Kelly said.

"We're always looking at our school to have our kids reach their full potential both academically and athletically and this certainly helps our girls reach their full potential," Kelly said.

The scrimmage was sponsored by T.F. Brown's owner Rick Mancuso.

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