“At the Mason-Dixon, there were a lot of people and a whole bunch of schools for the deaf there,” head coach Paul Kulick said. “Every year, there are about 11 deaf schools that come to compete and play in the tournament. There are a lot of really good teams; some teams are decent. It is a wonderful time socializing, getting to know people, making new friends, competing in tournaments and all kinds of stuff. We played against Florida School for the Deaf. They have won two straight back-to-back championships. So, of course we were really nervous playing against them because of their records. We didn’t want them to win a third straight; our girls said no. They did a great job; they played hard. Really, it was a team effort. So, it was a wonderful time. They won the championship and that was very inspiring.”
In the championship game, the Lady Silent Warriors defeated Florida School for the Deaf, 42-39. Even with the team being a little nervous to play the defending champions, Kulick had confidence his team could win.
“I didn’t expect the girls to just give up,” Kulick said. “They worked as a team, they had a team effort, they were very dedicated and determined, and they were passionate throughout the entire game. We really surpassed our expectations at the very beginning. We led by maybe 12 or 14 points at the beginning. In the fourth quarter, Florida was starting to catch up a little. We ended up winning by only three points. We’ll take that win. It was a tough tournament by all means, but it was wonderful. I’ll never forget that experience.”
The tournament named senior Tuesdae Dunklin as the MVP, but Dunklin felt the MVP award belonged to every member of the team.
“I’m going to tell you honestly, the two of us are very humble; the girls are all very humble,” Kulick said. “When she received the MVP, the first thing she said was ‘This is not for me; it is for the entire team,’ and she passed it around to all the girls to touch. The trophy was for everybody. So, she was very, very humble. I was very impressed with her because of that.”
Dunklin led the team with 19 points, six rebounds and two steals in the championship game.
In the first round of the tournament, ASD defeated their rival, Mississippi School for the Deaf, 37-29. Te’Chana Dunklin led the team in scoring with 16 points. Tuesdae Dunklin led the team with seven rebounds and three steals, while also scoring in double figures with 13 points.
The team defeated tournament host Virginia School for the Deaf, 41-26 to help them advance to the championship game.
“We won it in 2011 at Georgia School for the Deaf,” Kulick said. “We were in the lead by about one point with 10 seconds left in the game. Florida brought the ball and it was completely crazy. With 0.2 seconds left, Florida shot the ball, made a 2-point shot, and they won the game. We were just kind of depressed because in those last few seconds they ended up winning. In 2012, we played again against Florida here at home. We were down by about eight points with 30 seconds left in the game. We just wanted to catch up. We were able to come back and win that one. Then, last year Florida won the tournament in Kentucky. Now, we beat Florida. So, it’s been Florida, us, Florida, us.”
With the team’s season now over, Tuesdae Dunklin has finished her career as a Lady Silent Warrior in basketball. With everything drawing to close, it was difficult to summarize her senior year.
“It’s a big boost for me to be in my senior year and playing basketball; I’ve been playing basketball for a long time,” she said. “It’s hard to express it. It’s just, it’s tough. I don’t know how to say it. But it’s a great experience for me now in my last year. I can understand how people played the previous year and understand I’m a senior this year. I’ve been playing for six years and everything and I feel like I know lots of things I can leave this school and pass it on.”
Kulick believes he simply cannot replace a player of Tuesdae Dunklin’s caliber—many of her contributions did not show up in stat sheets.
“She’s really a great leader of our team,” Kulick said. “She’s been fantastic. I’ve never seen anyone who has been such a quick leader as she is, she’s been great. She’s just an amazing leader. I know that we will never, never find another girl like Tuesdae for many, many years to come. She is a wonderful leader, wonderful coach, wonderful person; just a very loving person, humble and many girls look up to her. They look up to her example; her examples are great. It’s been fantastic having her. She’s taught me so much about being humble myself. I’m not always a humble person, so I’ve learned how to be humble and she’s taught me that.”
Tuesdae Dunklin said she just hopes she can be of help to her teammates.
“The girls request things and I encourage them and I love that,” she said. “It’s my last year; I want to pass the torch on to them and give it to them so that they can learn on their own. When I graduate, I want them to know they can do things themselves and prepare for the years when I am gone.”