On the football field, Maryland School for the Deaf’s Brady Perry has pulled away from would-be tacklers with ease.
On the baseball field, he’s legged out infield hits. And on the track, he’s won plenty of races.
About the only thing Perry did slowly was embrace the idea that he had a shot at competing in the Deaflympics as a sprinter.
“Since my freshman year, my coach said I should go to the Deaflympics for track and field,” said Brady, who will head into his senior year at MSD in the fall. “I didn’t even bother to think about it until this year.”
These days, it’s more than just a thought.
Perry has earned a spot on the United States track and field team for the 23rd Summer Deaflympics, which will be held in Samsun, Turkey, from July 18 to July 30.
Perry is slated to compete in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays, and there’s a possibility he’ll run the 400-meter dash.
“It is a big opportunity for me,” Perry said. “I never thought I’d go to the Deaflympics.”
And when he did entertain the thought, he figured it might be in another Deaflympics sport like handball, which he began playing after someone suggested he do so.
But track and field, which Perry took up to prepare for football and satisfy his competitive drive, was his ticket to the the 2017 Samsun games.
As Perry showed this spring, he’s blossomed into a standout sprinter. He ranks among Frederick County’s top three performers in the 100 (11.18), 200 (22.64) and 400 (50.32) dashes.
His 400 time broke a school record held by Anthony Epps, who won three gold medals and one bronze medal at the 1989 Deaflympics in New Zealand.
Perry landed on the radar of USA Deaflympics track and field head coach Thomas Withrow, a 1976 MSD grad who’s been coaching the sport for 35 years.
When it comes to identifying candidates, Withrow said the USA team looks at times from prior Deaflympics — 2009 and 2013 in this case. An average is calculated, and Perry’s numbers came close to it. Withrow and other coaches decided to watch him run.
“Needed a little bit of polishing up, but we knew he could get better,” Withrow said. “So after two, three weeks of training with us, we wanted to see what would happen.
“We knew that could help us with our relay team,” he said. “We needed to get six individuals so that we could go two or three rounds.”
One skill Perry needed to hone, according to Withrow, was his starts. With good training, the coach figured Perry could get his 100 dash time under 11.0.
“We have awesome coaches on that, focus on the start, the sprint, and they live in Toronto, Canada,” Withrow said. “I can pretty much guarantee that’s going to really improve him big-time.”
Withrow said Perry is scheduled to train with those coaches in Canada for two weeks later this month. From there, he’ll head to Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas, to train with the entire USA team. Then, it’s off to Turkey.
“I’m very excited about it,” Perry said. “I heard Samsun, Turkey, has friendly people and is a fun place to visit.”
Of course, the competitor in Perry is looking for more than just fun. He’d love a gold medal, and he hopes to medal in every event he enters.
Whatever the outcome, he should benefit.
“We try to see who has potential for the future,” Withrow said. “So right now, as it stands, even if he doesn’t medal, we know that it will be a great experience which can actually lead to being in the Deaflympics again in 2021.”
Perry’s been training hard at MSD for the Deaflympics, often running the 100, 200 and 250 three times each day. He also runs 300s to stay in shape for the 400. On weekends, he’ll run about six to eight miles on his own.
“He’s always striving to get better, working hard in the weight room, practicing hard. And he has natural talent,” MSD athletic director Andy Bonheyo said. “He will represent our school well.”
Aside from winning medals, that’s one of Perry’s goals.
“I want to represent my family, my school and the deaf community in Frederick very well,” said Perry, whose family includes his sister, Cassidy, a standout athlete at MSD.
Perry has been trying to raise the $4,500 needed to travel to the prestigious competition. Withrow, who will be coaching in his 10th Deaflympics, said athletes from some other countries don’t have such responsibilities. He said other nations also compensate athletes for winning medals.
“Here in America, we don’t receive any kind of compensation or training or anything like that. Everyone kind of does it on their own,” he said. “Whether you win or not, there’s no compensation that goes with it. You get that pat on the back.”
Perry will take it. And the U.S. track and field team usually fares well at the Deaflympics, winning three gold, four silver and six bronze medals in 2013.
Come fall, Perry plans to be back on MSD’s football field for his senior season. He’s been a standout running back-defensive back for the Orioles.
And if next school year is like this one, Perry will also play basketball in the winter before doing both baseball and track in the spring.
“I’m happy because we’ve still got him for one more year,” Bonheyo said. “It’s hard to envision what he’ll do next year.”