BANGOR, Maine — About 150 fans of Gallaudet University, one of the top schools in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing college students, took in Saturday afternoon’s college football game against Husson University.
The Bison weren’t having a good day: Husson, which is undefeated, led 41-0 early in the third quarter. But Gallaudet’s supporters, including local members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, didn’t seem to mind as they munched on popcorn, used sign language to chat, and wore Gallaudet sweat shirts and hats.
Husson organized the event, which drew people from as far away as New Hampshire. Some of the spectators were Gallaudet alumni who wanted to watch their team make a rare appearance in northern New England.
Courtney Washington, a Bangor resident who studied at Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., for three years, made sure to be at the game. She played soccer for the Bison.
“We have a big, strong deaf community here, and I am here to support that,” the 28-year-old seamstress said through sign language interpreter Sarah Tanner. “And [being at the game] shows the Gallaudet players our support. We’re here.”
Tanner works for Bangor Interpreting Agency in Hampden, which provides sign language and foreign language interpreters in Maine and beyond.
Tanner and other interpreters stood on platforms in the stands, signing as the announcer spoke at the Winkin Complex stadium. She was wearing yellow knit gloves, which helped the crowd see her hands as they moved. Interpreters are supposed to be neutral during such events, but Tanner said the fact that Gallaudet’s colors are blue and gold didn’t escape her.
Tanner’s father played high school football at the Georgia School for the Deaf.
“They like the feeling that they can do just what the hearing can do,” Tanner said. “Sometimes people look at the deaf and think, ‘Oh, sorry.’ But the deaf want people to know, ‘Look, we are just as competitive.’”