MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Angora's Matt Sherman and Team USA won gold at the 2019 World Deaf Basketball Championships earlier this month in Lublin, Poland.

ANGORA — Representing the United States and winning the gold medal at the 2019 World Deaf Basketball Championships in Poland earlier this month was indescribable, according to team member Matt Sherman of Angora.

The 6-foot-4-inch 21-year-old helped Team USA reach the pinnacle of the tournament and defeat defending champion Lithuania, 105-77.

“Despite not having enough time to practice as a whole team, we still found a way to get on top and set the tone for the next few years,’’ Sherman stated in an email to the Mesabi Daily News.

How tough was the competition at the championships?

“It was tough at times when we played against teams with some players who play professionally. We ultimately came out on the top because we were the stronger team,’’ he said.

Capturing the gold medal easily highlighted the trip to Lublin, Poland, from June 27 to July 6 for Sherman.

“Winning the championship game was obviously the highlight of the whole experience because we accomplished what we went there to do.’’

USA played in Group D and notched victories over Japan (93-41) and Greece (69-53). In the quarterfinals, USA beat Spain, 105-55, before knocking off Russia in the semifinals (91-76).

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Deaf since birth, Sherman was born and raised in Angora and got into basketball at the age of 6.

“My family bought a basketball hoop one summer and that’s when I started playing basketball almost every day,’’ said Sherman, who is the son of Mary and Dan Sherman.

His time in competitive basketball started at 6, as well, and later included playing against and practicing with his younger brother Ian, who just graduated from North Woods High School and played the sport for the Grizzlies.

Sherman also participated in many different sports while growing up, such as soccer, football, baseball, and track and field.

In addition to sports, the Angora native enjoys many different outdoor hobbies, such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and snowboarding.

Over the years though, Sherman grew to love the sport of basketball.

“It’s my release. Playing basketball is the opportunity for me to set aside any worries or troubles, and to focus on just playing my heart out in a game that brings me so much excitement and connects me with other people everywhere.’’

On the court, Sherman said versatility is his calling card. “I am able to play guard and forward positions at any given time and contribute through my strengths in playmaking, shooting, and rebounding.’’

That led to getting an email from the USA Deaf Sports Federation one day with an invitation to play on the USA men’s team. “It was based on my accomplishments and standing as a basketball player,’’ he added.

The world championships and traveling to Lublin, Poland, turned out to be the experience of a lifetime.

“Other than competing in the World Championship for two weeks, we got to know many deaf people who are from all across the world. Because of the language differences, we communicated through universal sign language which many could understand. Just like the spoken languages, there are many different languages to choose from in sign language. In our spare time, we got the opportunity to travel around the city of Lublin. We visited old town and saw some historical places.’’

Regarding communicating with his teammates on the court, Sherman said there are not any specific difficulties.

“There is a common language we use through American Sign Language, so there was never any communication challenges on and off the court.’’

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Educationally, Sherman attended Cook school during his elementary years and then enrolled at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault for middle school and high school.

“Currently, I am in my fourth year at Gallaudet University (in Washington, D.C.). I major in government with a specialization in law along with a business administration minor. My long term plan is to graduate with a degree and use my success and training to make a difference anywhere I go in the world.’’

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