Lakeville track coach invited to Deaflympics

Steven Fuerst will lead hurdlers, high jumpers at Bulgaria this summers-fuerst
Lakeville resident Steven Fuerst has been selected as a coach for the USA Deaf Track and Field team that will compete at the Deaflympics this summer. He will coach the team’s hurdlers and high jumpers.

As a coach at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault, Fuerst knows a thing or two about working with elite athletes.

He has won four conference and six Great Plains Schools for the Deaf championships and has brought athletes to the state championships several times in the past 16 years as a coach for the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf.

He also coaches the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf varsity track program as well as the football team, which he guided to the National Deaf Prep 8-Man Football Championship.

“Deaflympic hurdlers have their own past great accomplishments, like they went to state and won a couple of medals,” Fuerst wrote in an e-mail. “One of my hurdlers also won the Big Ten championship.”

There are a few challenges with the language barrier at the high school level, such as not being able to hear the announcements like first call and the results.

“Communication is the most important part of the game and we find alternative ways to overcome the barriers,” he wrote. “Deaf athletes keep eye contact on the official starter’s hand signals to set, then glance at the gun when the smoke out, go.”

The Deaflympics this summer will have a level playing field.

“All deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes (55 decibels hearing loss or more) are treated equally during the competition, (and are) not allowed to use any hearing aids or cochlear implant devices,” Fuerst wrote. “The special light equipment is provided to all deaf athletes.”

He’s already been in touch with Deaflympic hurdlers such as 2012 World Deaf Athletes gold medalist Janna Meulen from the University of Western Oregon (100- and 400-meter hurdles) and Big Ten 110 high hurdles champion Josh Membrough from Purdue University.

They will get together for 10 days of training in Austin, Texas, this summer before flying to Sofia, Bulgaria, for the 2013 Deaflympics in late July.

USA Deaf Track and Field, Inc is a non-profit organization. Fuerst is raising funds to help pay for the trip as well as uniforms, shoes, training camp, and equipment. For more information about the fundraising effort, visit www.razoo.com/story/Stevenfuerst.

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