The Alabama School for the Deaf Lady Silent Warriors track team earned the NDIAA National Championship for the 2013 season, and head coach Marvice Robinson earned National Coach of the Year.
The national championship is determined by taking the best times from competitions throughout the season. Out of 39 deaf schools across the nation, the Lady Silent Warriors tallied the most points to earn the top spot. The school received notification June 13.
“(AD) Walter Ripley called me and said ‘Congratulations!’ I was like, ‘What,’” Robinson recounted. “He was here when I started coaching track. I’ve been coaching track for seven years, going through struggles, challenges, dealing with the team’s ups and downs. I thank God first for putting me through the challenges, ups and downs, and struggles. Every time I see the results, I always want to be No. 1. So, I’m working hard and trying to train. Last spring, I started to set a goal, changing all the strategies of what I’ve been doing. I think my strategies worked and I got the goal.”
Robinson relayed the information to her team.
“I had three seniors who were already here for the ACT camp,” she said. “I broke the news; they were very excited. Kids put it on Facebook and started spreading the word sending congratulations through Facebook and texts. People on campus were all congratulating me.”
Robinson believes the Coach of the Year award belongs to all the individuals who helped the team throughout the season.
“I was shocked when I heard that I was Coach of the Year,” she said. “I never thought I would get that honor. I was focused on the team winning the championship, that’s it. Walter Ripley sent me the information that I received Coach of the Year and I felt very honored. It wasn’t just me; there were a lot of other people on my side: Chris Moon, Herminio Gonzalez, Cedric Tyson, as well as Walter Ripley and Mandi Yates. So, Coach of the Year is not just me.”
Moon is the boys’ track and field head coach. He helps Robinson with long-distance running for the girls’ team. Gonzalez is an assistant coach and Tyson is a volunteer assistant. Ripley is the athletics director and Yates is the athletics secretary.
The senior class played a big role in the Lady Silent Warriors earning the national championship. Ashley Laster finished first in the 400-meter dash, second in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 100-meter dash. Tuesdae Dunklin finished second in the 100-meter hurdle and the javelin, and was in the top 10 in the shot put. Laster and Debbie Wheatley were part of the first-place 1600 meter relay.
“(Ashley) was chosen to go to the Deaf Olympics in 2017,” Robinson said. “The Olympic committee was very impressed with her performance. Tuesdae Dunklin broke the school record in the 100-meter hurdle (at the Berg-Seeger Classic). Debbie Wheatley won the 3200-meter relay (at the Berg-Seeger) and broke the school record. For the seniors who finished as national champions, they brought a lot of points and won different events and improved their timing and measurements. I always told the girls ‘I don’t care if you place last, but I want your timing and measurement to improve in every meet.’”
The Lady Silent Warriors competed at the Berg/Seeger Track and Field Classic in Danville, Ky., and finished runner-up by just one point.
“This year, we went to the Berg-Seeger and could only bring out 12,” Robinson said. “I had one seventh grader who could not go. I had one senior who was not normally a long-distance runner. She competes in fields events like the shot put and discus. I asked her, ‘Can you run the 3200-meter for the team?’ She was like ‘Oh, no. I can’t do it.’ I said ‘Do it for the team.’”
As it turned out, Shay Cole competed in the event for the team and wound up helping the 4 X 400 meter relay team win first place even though she had not trained for the event.
“She’s doing shot put, discus and javelin, but ran the 3200 meter just to do it,” Robinson said. “I like for someone who has never experienced an event but does it for the team. That is the best. She did it to help the team.”
For the Lady Silent Warriors, all the dedication put in at daily practices paid dividends by the end of the season.
“If you want (a national championship), you have to work hard at practice and the meets,” Robinson said. “If you do, you will win one, I believe. I thank those girls who had confidence and faith in me to help them to achieve now and well beyond to win national championships. They practiced every day, went to the weight room and trained.”