From the Sports Editor: Walker set for global stage in deaf volleyball

Shaun Walker and his friend, Jake Smalley, drove through 13 states in nine days last June, keeping their dreams alive. When they left Los Angeles after the grueling tryouts, Walker and Smalley had earned what they came for — spots on the USA Men’s National Deaf Volleyball team. (Submitted photo)

Shaun Walker and his friend, Jake Smalley, drove through 13 states in nine days last June, keeping their dreams alive. When they left Los Angeles after the grueling tryouts, Walker and Smalley had earned what they came for — spots on the USA Men’s National Deaf Volleyball team. (Submitted photo)

Shaun Walker had already tried twice and failed to make the USA Men’s National Deaf Volleyball team.

But the 30-year-old from Lincoln felt like he still had one more tryout left in him.

So Walker and his friend, Jake Smalley, drove through 13 states in nine days last June, seeing the sights and keeping their Olympic dreams alive.

And when they left Los Angeles after the grueling tryouts, Walker and Smalley had earned what they came for — spots on the national team.

Now Walker would love to take one more long trip to play volleyball.

He’ll be playing for the U.S. team in the Pan American Deaf Volleyball Regional Qualifier and World Deaf Volleyball Championship from June 26-July 15 in Washington, D.C. From there, the squad hopes to earn a spot in the 23rd Summer Deaflympics, which are scheduled for next summer in Samsun, Turkey.

“I am so fortunate and proud to be able to represent the USA in the upcoming PanAM Deaf Volleyball Regional Qualifier and the World Deaf Volleyball Championships,” said Walker. “I am also excited to be able to meet and compete against the best deaf volleyball athletes from around the world.”

Walker has played volleyball since he was eight or nine years old. Among other teams, he’s played for CYM and recreational leagues at Dover’s Holy Cross Church.

Communication during a match, of course, is different for deaf players.

Walker said hearing players are usually willing to learn some sign language so they can communicate with him more efficiently.

“There is a huge difference in playing with hearing and deaf athletes,” he said. “Hearing athletes depend on communication through verbal communication while deaf athletes depend mostly on visual cues from one another.”

Being part of the national team takes funding, of course. Walker needs to raise $2,500 to practice with the national team and has started a Go Fund Me page to help offset his costs.

Ingelsby gets a win

Think of it like being down by five points with 10 seconds left in a basketball game.

And then somehow you sink two three-pointers to win the contest at the buzzer.

That’s a little bit like what new Delaware men’s basketball coach Martin Ingelsby pulled off recently.

Chivarsky Corbett, who had a promising freshman season for the Blue Hens two years ago, wasn’t just leaning towards transferring, Texas-San Antonio had already announced that the 6-foot-7 swingman was joining its program.

But, with Corbett still having the option of staying put, Ingelsby starting talking to the youngster after he was hired by Delaware on May 25.

The two talked a few more times before Corbett decided he would stay with the Hens after all.

“I really felt, getting to know him and listening to him talk, he did not want to leave,” said Ingelsby, the former Notre Dame assistant. “He’s enjoyed his experience here.

“He was one of the first guys I reached out to after I got the job that night. … At the end of the day, he just needed to feel comfortable in the direction of this program. … I told him, ‘You’re a really key guy for me. I need you back in the fold if we’re going to be able to do some stuff this year.’”

To be sure, Corbett isn’t being billed as a savior for Delaware. But did make the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie team after averaging 8.8 points per game as a freshman.

Right now, the Hens look like they need all the scoring options they can get. Despite starting only one game in 2014-15, Corbett scored in double figures 13 times, including a career-high 21 points against Robert Morris.

The Florida native missed most of last season with a knee injury and still has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Ingelsby and the Hens still have a long way to go. But the new coach, who also has a verbal commitment from Philadelphia Catholic League Player of the Year Ryan Daly, has shown the ability to do some recruiting so far.

“I think he really got excited as I talked about who we’d be on the offensive end — kind of bringing our blueprint for how we played at Notre Dame,” Ingelsby said about Corbett. “I’m not going to label you as a ‘two man’ or a ‘four man’ or a ‘three man.’ You’re just a basketball player and we’re going to play and share the basketball. I just think you’ll have a lot of fun if you stay here playing for me and playing in this system.

“I think the more we talked and developed that relationship, I think it became pretty clear to him that this was the place for him.”

Fond memories

Bill Falasco said one of the nicest things about being back in the area is running into his old players.

The former Lake Forest High baseball, basketball and football coach moved to Florida for a while before returning to the Felton area a few years ago.

Falasco was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame last Monday.

“I see so many of them now,” said Falasco, who is the director of Harrington’s Parks & Recreation department. “They’re fathers now and they have their own kids and they’re in my programs out here. That’s all good. It’s like doing it again all over.”

And Falasco doesn’t mind helping out that next generation of youngsters with their pitching or hitting when their dads ask.

Certainly, Falasco knew how to get the most out of his Lake Forest baseball players.

“We tried to teach the total game and weren’t afraid to use it,” he said. “If the percentages were that we were going to be able to push a run across, we went with it — including two-strike suicide bunts.

“They didn’t care whether they got to swing or bunt,” Falasco said about his players. “It didn’t make any difference. They bought into that. If they hadn’t done that, it would have been very, very frustrating to get us to play a total baseball game.”

Odds & ends

• Wild Quail Country Club will host the Delaware Amateur golf tournament Monday through Wednesday this week.

It figures to be a grueling finish with 36 holes scheduled for Wednesday. There are 19 Wild Quail members in the field, including past champion Jay Whitby and the Rosal family, Pem, Nino and Matt.

• JRL Lacrosse is taking registrations for its goalie workshop on June 27 at Wesley College.

The coed workshop is for children 10-18 years old and will run from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost is $80. Contact Jillian Lontz at JRL.Lacrosse@gmail.com or (717) 314-5785.

• The 17th annual Freedom 5K Run/Walk & Roll will be held on July 2 at 9 a.m. starting and ending at Dover’s Silver Lake Park, The event benefits the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund, which provides assistance to veterans in financial crisis.

Registration is available online at www.trisportysevents.com. Race day registration will open at 8 a.m. Online registration will close at 6 p.m. on June 30. Contact Ray@trisportsevents.com for more information.

• While she hasn’t been a pro for very long, former Delaware basketball star Elena Delle Donne is one of 60 players on the ballot for the top 20 players in the WNBA’s 20-year history. The list of the top 20 players will be unveiled on Tuesday at 10 a.m. on ESPN.

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