LHS Teacher Blazing Trails on the Track and for the Deaf Community
Tim Elliot | NBC15
An athlete from Madison is competing on the world stage in Brazil this week. Taylor Koss is a track and field star --he’s also completely deaf. He’s out to prove that deaf or not, as long as he puts in the work, he can achieve his goals.
“I have always been self-motivated. I like to prove that deaf people can do these things,” said Koss using American Sign Language.
The 28-year-old Green Bay native was born deaf. He’s been busy getting ready for the 2022 Deaflympics in Caxios Do Sul, a city in southern Brazil. He’s been training at Madison La Follette High School where he works as an American Sign Language (ASL) teacher.
“I’ve trained for four years. I’ve worked hard show who I am,” said Koss. “I’m nervous, but I’m ready to prove that I’m the best in the world.”
Koss says he always knew he was fast, but it wasn’t until high school when he realized that he was a bit quicker than his peers. He starred for the track team at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan. He then went on to compete at the division one level for the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. It was in college where Koss became a collegiate and American deaf track record holder in the 400m hurdles with a time of 53.27.
After being a part of a team for most of his competitive career, Koss has been training on his own more recently.
“Sometimes training alone, I get frustrated,” he said. “But I have to tell myself “Come on Taylor. You can do this, keep going” and sometimes I film myself and I send it off to my coach and he lets me know what I’m doing good what I need to work on. He gives me feedback that way.”
This will be Koss’ third time competing at the Deaflympics. Koss finished 5th in the 400m hurdles in 2013 in Bulgaria. He then earned a bronze medal in both the 200m sprint and the 400m hurdles in 2017 in Turkey. Koss says he won those two medals despite suffering from food poisoning.
“I didn’t want to give up, so I preserved,” said Koss. “I didn’t give up and I got the bronze when I was still sick,”
In 2022, Koss is competing in four events:
Koss says competing with hearing-abled athletes can be a bit of a challenge.
“Once I get in the starting blocks, I’m looking. I have to cock my neck, I have to crank my neck to the side to watch the gun,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to the Deaf Olympics because I can put my head down. They have lights on the ground.”
He says competing at the Deaflympics is an experience he can’t wait to soak in once again.
“I believe that I have the same experience as hearing athletes who are in those stadiums with lots of people cheering,” said Koss. “They can hear the people cheering but I can see hand movements and everyone getting excited. I get chills. I look forward to those opening ceremonies.”
Koss embraces the label as a “deaf athlete” – he hopes his experience can help anyone who may need a little inspiration.
“Yeah, I do want to be looked at as role model and I also want to give back to my (deaf) community to prove that they can do the same thing. They can be like me. Other people might tell you can’t do these things, but ignore them.”
The rest of the world is now on notice. And this time, bronze isn’t good enough. Koss is coming for the gold.
“I’m nervous, but I’m ready to prove that I’m the best in the world,” said Koss.
The 2022 Deaflympics are taking place in Brazil from May 1st until the 15th. More than 1,700 athletes from all over the world will be competing. Team USA consists of more than 100 athletes.
The games were originally planned for 2021 but were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This content was originally published by NBC15 WMTV on May 2, 2022. To view the full story on their website, please click here.