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Part 3: Community Spotlight with the University of Minnesota Deaf College Bowl Alumni

A four part interview series

5/22/2020 10:00:56 AM

The 2016 team with four players and coach, all wearing gold polo shirts, stand on the stage with the jumbotron visible from behind. From L-R: Maggie Bangert, AJ Temple, Kyle Johnson, Hennah McCoy, and Justin Barlow.

The University of Minnesota Deaf College Bowl (CoBo) program was established in 2011 as a project under Deaf Student Ambassadors program. The team consists of four undergraduate players, two coaches, and program advisors from both U of MN Disability Resource Center and the Interpreting & Captioning Unit. The student and alumni-led program continues to participate in the Deaf College Bowl competition during the biennial National Association of the Deaf (NAD) conference which they have done since 2012. The NAD Deaf College Bowl competition began in 1988 with three schools participating (Gallaudet University, Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute of the Deaf (RIT/NTID), and California State University, Northridge (CSUN). In 2012, the competition welcomed non-traditional schools to join the national competition.The U of MN team is one of the four non-traditional schools that have joined Gallaudet, RIT/NTID, and CSUN in the game of brains.

With the current climate regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 National Association of the Deaf conference has been cancelled, and thus so has the 2020 CoBo competition held during the conference. We have reached out to the alumni of the past four teams that represented Minnesota in the years 2012-2018 to share their experience, and how being part of CoBo has shaped their futures.

Due to the length of this interview, a portion of the interview will be released over a period of four days. This is part three of four. 

The Teams:

2012: Justin Barlow, Tjay Middlebrook, Shawn Vriezen, John Wilson.

2014: Maggie Bangert, Kyle Johnson, Johanna Lucht, John Wilson.

2016: Maggie Bangert, Kyle Johnson, Hennah McCoy, AJ Temple.

2018: Zakaria Einab, Autumn Moder, AJ Temple, Andrew Weber.

Part 3:

Questions 7-8

Why do you think it's important that Minnesota continues to send youth representatives to NAD?

Andrew: It is super, super important that Minnesota continues to send youth representatives to NAD because it is one of the ways that we can show off our great state and community! I would want more representation because Minnesota's Deaf community is growing and sending people to NAD is one of the ways that we can grow through.

Justin: It is important for Minnesota to keep supporting NAD because as one of the larger deaf communities in the USA, we are accountable to support the larger cause in terms of Deaf community.

Kyle: I think it is important because it can help those students to admire and know what they want to do for their future.

Maggie: Because we do have a strong deaf community in MN that many don't realize and we have so much resources and opportunities here as well. In some ways, I do feel like MN is somewhat ahead with being accessible here, especially at the U.

John: Youth representatives are wonderful role models for our community. We need more Deaf* youth to go to college. Having youth representatives shows the community that YES, it’s possible to succeed at a hearing college. It’s also so beneficial as a networking opportunity and a chance for Deaf* students to connect with other schools that they may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise.

AJ: I think it's important to keep Minnesota visible on the deaf community map as we have a great deaf community and a great state that shouldn't be overlooked just because many people consider it a flyover state.

Zakaria: Many other states are not aware of what MN has to offer, and it’s important for us from MN to go out and show them the wealth of MN deaf community - how we are accessible, have resources, the people who get things done, etc. It’s a great way for our youth to go to NAD, see and learn things, and bring it home back to MN to share and educate with others in the Deaf community here and become leaders themselves.

Shawn: It is so important to our state to continue to represent. Minnesota is such an integral part of the national scene. MADC was also the first state NAD affiliate chapter. The first president of NAD was Minnesotan. It is in our blood and in our heritage and it's extremely important that we continue to live up to that not just for our current selves but also for future generations to take up that legacy. We are a state of many firsts when it comes to the Deaf community and I look forward to seeing that continue for many years to come.

Hennah: I think that it is very important for Minnesota to continue to send youth representatives to the NAD for the opportunities to broaden their worlds, to network, to learn more about themselves, and to learn more about the Deaf community.

TJay: To boost Minnesota as a land of opportunity. Our university is amazing - we have terps that work there that feel like family; job opportunities in the local D/HH community; a strong D/HH community here in MN.

Autumn: It allows exposure from other deaf communities that may be considered Non-Traditional. D/HH people come from all over the world, and celebrating and recognizing those differences is important. This also allows our youth to have role models to look up to and may help them develop goals of accomplishing some of the big things NAD has done for the DHH community.

Since 1972, deaf youth from all over Minnesota have represented our state at the NAD conference first as the Miss Deaf Minnesota Program (1972-2010), and now through the UMN CoBo team (2012-current). Future plans might include welcoming middle and high school students to become Jr. NAD Pages and young adults interested in representing Minnesota as the next NAD Youth Ambassador.

How has the UMN & MN Deaf/ASL community supported the UMN CoBo team? (Alt: How can the MN Deaf/ASL community support future teams?)

Johanna: Funding. No seriously, funding will help a lot. Also attend fundraising events hosted by CoBo, they worked really hard for them and that is part of growth. Consider donating things like white boards and [dry-erase] markers for practices. Know of any people that will be excellent players? Send them to U of MN and inform U of MN coaches. Challenges have always been "do we have enough players?" and "do we have enough money?"

Maggie: We have MADC (Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens), who supported us, and many internally (U staff) supported us in many ways, they helped with the bake sales for the team which was so sweet of them.

John: The community support has been amazing! When we needed fundraising opportunities, MADC was welcoming to have us as entertainment at their annual conference. The community has been great with welcoming us at events and donating to our fundraising efforts. UMN Interpreters also have been true allies every step of the way, baking cookies for our sales, offering support and encouragement for all of our teams.

AJ: The community has always been very generous with their donations as well as fundraiser support. The team would never have made it to NAD without the many people behind the team.

Shawn: We had such a solid support system with the student ambassador program at the U and our success there carried over into all the things we did. We had also had a good relationship with MDS [Metro Deaf School] and were able to compete with them for fun.

Prior fundraising and community engagement include bake sales at the U; friendly competitions with the Academic Bowl team at Metro Deaf School (to support both teams); attending ASL Night Out; and going head to head with the interpreters and captioners at U in mock games; and again with MADC members at the MADC conference; and online fundraising campaigns.

In addition

The UMN CoBo team is grateful to receive the majority of their funding and support from the community. Past and current sponsors have included the following:

  • Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens
  • Minnesota Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
  • ThinkSelf Minnesota Deaf Adult Education & Advocacy
  • Metro Deaf School
  • Bridge Communications
  • Balanced Boutique
  • sComm

From the University of Minnesota community:

  • Disability Resource Center
  • Interpreting & Captioning Unit
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Ambassadors
  • Disabled Students Cultural Center
  • UMN Bookstores
  • UMN students, faculty, and community members who bought treats from our bake sales!

MNCDHH has also been a partner.

And YOU. Because of your support, the UMN CoBo team is truly a community team at heart.

Follow the UMN Deaf CoBo team on Facebook!


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