The Stories They Tell 4

Sapphires: a deaf women's softball team

In the early to mid 1990s, the Sapphires Softball team was a shining star in the Deaf community in Rochester. This women’s softball team, made up of deaf students, faculty, staff and local residents frequently placed in the top 5 Deaf softball teams in the nation. They placed second in the National Softball Association of the Deaf’s tournament three years in a row, from 1993 to 1995, and again in 1998. These Deaf Women of Rochester were active members in their local community then and now, two of the former Sapphires are even current professors at the National Technical Institute of the Deaf. Sports has always been a great way to draw people together, and Sapphires Softball is a great example of that.

The history of the United States of America Deaf Sports Federation is a long one, dating back to 1935. The American Athletic Association of the Deaf was the national organization for all deaf sports. The largest league in the AAAD was both the men’s and the women’s basketball leagues. The demand for other sport leagues increased, to when AAAD delegates voted to create separate National Sports Organizations (NSOs) for individual sports under the AAAD Umbrella. 1993 was the first softball tournament under the new organizational structure under the AAAD. In 1997 the American Athletic Association of the Deaf had their name changed to the United States of America Deaf Sports Federation.