May 26, 2013
By Jourdan Rodrigue, SDA Digital Communications Intern
Sun Devil Women's basketball associate head coach Meg Sanders learned American Sign Language before she even knew how to speak.
It wasn't because she herself couldn't hear; her parents both were deaf and thus Sanders was raised with an appreciation of deaf culture and a passion for both athletics and teaching.
"My sister and I were exposed to deaf culture through social events and many of our childhood friends were CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults)," Sanders said.
An athlete from an early age, Sanders played basketball and later got a physical education degree from Cal State Fullerton, where she also adopted the sport of handball. She excelled, and was asked to be a member of the U.S. National Team at the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, South Korea.
But she kept her childhood culture in mind the entire time, and after the Olympics worked at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.
Her coaching ability caught the eye of many schools, and Sanders became the assistant coach at Fresno State while simultaneously acquiring her Masters degree in Physical Education Administration. She later moved to Northern Arizona University where she and current Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne turned the NAU women's basketball program from the worst in the Big Sky Conference to one of the best.
"Good coaching is good teaching," Sanders said. "I view myself as an educator, and it just happens to be in basketball. I enjoy the competition and striving for excellence through sports, and growing up I looked to coaches as positive role models."
Sanders joined Turner Thorne at ASU in 2003, and then further diversified her coaching experience when she led the U.S. Women's National Team to a silver medal in the 2009 Deaflympics.
"Both my sign language and sports background made [coaching the team] an easy decision," Sanders said.
And though she sees coaching at Arizona State as a fun and enriching experience, she'd love to continue her work with deaf athletes--but only after she retires from collegiate coaching.
"I would love to be able to serve deaf athletes in the areas of teaching, coaching, and education through sports," Sanders said. "This will have to wait until after I retire from collegiate athletics...but until then, my job is to cheer the U.S. Women's National Team on to victory in the Sofia 2013 Deaflympics."