NEW OXFORD, Pa. (WHTM) – In the last week of practice for the New Oxford boys basketball team, the usual drills can be heard from outside the gym.
Inside, the JV team prepares for its final game of the season. Sophomore Auden Ledden, like the rest of his teammates, hopes to make varsity next year. His road there is slightly different. Auden is one of the school district’s 18 deaf students. In a sport where fast play calling and communication is key: Auden works off what he sees and feels.
“If our coach needs to get a hold of him he stomps on the floor,” says Sophomore Josh Rickrode, “Auden can feel the vibrations and he’ll know when to look at him.”
For Auden, seeing and feeling the game takes on multiple meanings.
“I feel inspiration. It feels really awesome. I just love when I can see the people cheering and rooting on the team I just love the feeling that it gives me.”
Always within seeing distance of Auden is the school’s Educational Interpreter Corinne Bordner.
“Him and I have certain facial expressions and we can say a whole sentence. We’re not using our hands, my parents call it face talking.”
Jennifer Kline, Auden’s mom, was never concerned about her son taking on team sports. She’s wanted Auden to learn that while he may have a disability, it in no way entitles him to opportunities before others.
“When you work hard you get things in life, nothing is given to you. It’s definitely been a struggle. I’m not going to say it’s been easy, but it’s well worth it. He’s perfect.”
Auden’s goals go beyond a spot on the varsity roster. He hopes to be scouted by colleges in the next two seasons and play at the next level.