The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Deaf groundskeeper finds way to communicate on court

By Marley Malenfant/se news editor

Every day, Anthony Burton laces up his Air Jordans and heads to the NE Campus gym to play basketball.

Burton plays the point guard position but is built like a power forward.

During a game, Burton crossed a defender over to the hoop and was fouled while attempting a layup. He opened his mouth, but no words came out.

Instead, he threw his hands up in disbelief because he didn’t get the foul call.

Since the age of 6 months, Burton has been deaf because of meningitis.

Burton grew up in Dallas and graduated from Jean Massieu Academy in Arlington, a charter school for the deaf. Burton played on the school’s basketball team for three years.

Burton said being deaf doesn’t get in the way of his playing basketball, especially the point guard position.

“It’s hard, but I find a way to communicate,” he signed to an interpreter. “It’s hard to play with the guys here, but I play a lot of basketball so I figure it out.”

Burton said he was teased many times during his childhood. There were times when other kids didn’t want to play basketball with him because of his disability. 

“Most of the time, yeah, they’ll try to make fun of me, and it is what it is,” he said. “There’s going to be nice people. There’s going to be mean people. But there are times when I have to just ignore them.”

NE director of library services Steven Hagstrom, who often plays basketball, said he remembered the first time Burton stepped on the court.

Hagstrom said it took Burton some time to fit in with some of the daily gym rats.

“I love playing with him,” he said. “He has hops. I can’t imagine how good he could really be if he wasn’t deaf. He goes hard to the hoop and finishes every play. He’s a runner. If you call a pick-and-roll, he can’t hear it, but he doesn’t let our confusion get to him.”

Since 2007, Burton has worked on NE as a groundskeeper. Burton doesn’t have an interpreter.

“I write everything to communicate with my boss,” he said. “I don’t have an interpreter when I work. It’s all on paper.”

While Burton isn’t currently a student, he used to attend NW Campus as an art major.

“I stopped going to school in the spring of 2006,” he said. “I couldn’t drive, so it was hard to get back and forth to school. But I want to go back to school.”

NE student Adam Oriti said playing with Burton on the court can be a demanding task.

“It’s difficult because there’s times when you’re wide open for a shot and he shoots it himself since he can’t hear what’s going on,” he said. “He’s a scrappy player and he hustles. He can’t talk, so instead of calling a foul out, he’ll act it out.

“But I like having him on my team because he gets out there and hustles.”

Burton said his favorite player growing up was Michael Jordan and still is.

He said Jordan’s ambition on and off the court is the reason he enjoys playing basketball.

“Michael Jordan is why I play every day,” he said. “He’s my inspiration and why I continue to play.”

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