2014 ESDAA – How it Started

Eastern School for the Deaf Athletic Association History

There are six athletic associations for schools for the Deaf in the United States. They are: Central, Eastern I, Eastern II, Mason-Dixon, New England and Western. The Eastern Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association (ESDAA) was one of the first to be organized. In 1927, Fred Moore, a teacher at the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf in New Jersey, organized the boy’s basketball tournament. The ten participating schools in this first special event included: Kendall, Fanwood, Pennsylvania, American, New Jersey, St. Joseph’s , Lexington, Virginia and Maryland. The Katzenbach School emerged as the champion of the tournament.

Actually, the first six such tournaments were not sponsored by any one group. It was left to George Harlow, athletic director of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, to suggest and organize the necessary support structure for what we now know as the ESDAA. The first ESDAA – sponsored boys’ tournament was held at the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York the trophy presented to the winner of the ESDAA tournament is known as the George Harlow Trophy. The winning team keeps this trophy for one year and passes it on to the winner the following year. Hence, it is called a “traveling trophy”.

In 1961 the boys’ ESDAA was split into two divisions. Division I included the school with large numbers of students and Division II, the schools with a smaller number of students. In 1977, the first ESDAA girls’ basketball tournament was held for interested schools, hosted by Paul Barr and the Maryland School for the Deaf. Since that time, the tournament has grown in size, popularity and organization, and, in fact, there are now two divisions. The girls’ tournament is now complete with competitions, trophies, All-Star selections and sportsmanship awards. Best of all, this special activity provides opportunities for members of the participating teams to interact with each other. Additionally, it encourages self-discipline, hard work, cooperative effort, good conduct and manners – skills that can be kept for a lifetime.

In 1994, the athletic directors used a formula for determining actual eligible enrollment for each member school. As a result, three divisions were formed for boys’ basketball tournament competition.

The ESDAA also conducts tournaments and championships in soccer, volleyball, wrestling, cheerleading and track and field. Schools take turns “hosting” the various tournaments that their students/athletes participate in. championship meet competition. These competitions will center on good sportsmanship, ethical behavior and integrity as advocated by the National Federation of State High School Athletics Association.

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