Gator rises above deafness

Gator rises above deafness

Deafness is no barrier to 13 year old Shane Crick, recipient of the Altona (Gator’s) Basketball Association’s 2007 Rising Star Award. Shane, who has played basketball since aged 7, was born with a severe to profound hearing loss (up to

Deafness is no barrier to 13 year old Shane Crick, recipient of the Altona (Gator’s) Basketball Association’s 2007 Rising Star Award.

Shane, who has played basketball since aged 7, was born with a severe to profound hearing loss (up to 80%). Shane has represented Altona in the VJBL for four years; he also plays domestically with his local club the Altona Meadow’s Sharks.

Watching his prowess on the court, the unsuspecting would not be aware of his hearing impairment, unless paying close attention to what goes on off court.  Shane relies on father Rod, who uses sign language to relay the coach’s instructions from the player’s bench.  Shane’s fellow Under 16’s Gator’s team mates also lend a hand.

“His team has come up with about half a dozen simple one handed sign gestures for specific plays,” said his mother and number one fan, Debra.  “Often one of the boys will get his attention and get him to look at the bench when Rod signs.  He has developed excellent peripheral vision.  He often tells his team mates where they should be standing when they are out of position.”

Shane’s hearing impairment may be a disability, but it hasn’t meant ‘inability’.  The word doesn’t exist in his vocabulary.  Earlier this year he was selected to participate in Basketball Victoria’s Intensive Training Centre program.  The program’s aim is to identify and select outstanding basketball athletes, aged between 14 -17 years, and develop their mental, individual playing skills and team concepts to enable them to compete successfully in any basketball environment. Unfortunately Shane had to withdraw due to injury.

Coach, Malcolm Nitschke says “Shane is a talent.  His hearing impairment is no disability for him.  He is a great kid and a great player with a lot of potential.”

“Coaching Shane last season was a huge adjustment for me.  I had to rely on relaying commands to the other players who could make eye contact with him on the court.  Because Shane is such a focussed player, it isn’t always easy to get his attention, “said Malcolm.  “In many ways, his impairment was a weapon against our opponents, because we were signing and not calling plays.  That meant the opposition couldn’t anticipate our game.”

Shane’s parents, Rod and Debra have been pivotal in Shane’s career thus far, when developing some simple one handed signs to use to communicate during matches, his parents took photos pf Shane doing these signes, photocopied them and handed them out to his team mates to learn and use.

Living in Altona, Shane who attends Sunshine College (a mainstream school with a deaf facility) chose to play with the Altona Gators as a chance to socialise and make friends locally.

“Basketball is a fun sport, and is very challenging,” said Shane.  “One day I hope to take it further and play for the Australian Basketball team in the Deaf Olympics.”

Additional information:

  • Program leaders of Basketball Victoria’s ITC program were unaware that Shane is profoundly deaf, so he had to anticipate the drills and plays with no-one there to assist him, yet still he managed well enough that no-one suspected the full extent of his impairment
  • Shane has inspirations to also coach.  He has just started coaching an U8 Shark’s domestic team with a U16 Shark’s team mate
  • Shane’s wears covers on his hearing aids to keep the sweat out of them during the game