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Tryouts – December 13th

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

The first tryouts for the 2016 season will be this Sunday, December 13, 2015, 6:00-8:00 p.m. for 5th through 8th graders at Southeastern University Gym.

Please contact Troy Wells at 863-838-7460 for more information.


tryouts dec13

Xpress Alumnus Makes Front Page!

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Our own Shawn Daniels, who has played for Lakeland Xpress for the past three years, was the subject of an inspirational article in The Ledger this week…

The Silent Court: Lakeland High Basketball Players Play Despite Deafness

Lakeland High School varsity basketball players Shawn Daniels, 17, left, and Demetric McNair, 18, both juniors, are deaf and communicate through sign language.


Published: Monday, November 30, 2015 at 4:49 p.m.

– LAKELAND — Demetric McNair doesn’t hear the squeak of basketball sneakers on the hardwood. He doesn’t notice the constant pounding of a basketball on that court. McNair has never heard the crowd roar after a big play.

And that’s all fine with him.

McNair was born deaf — just like his sister, mother and grandmother. But the Lakeland junior has never let it slow him down. In fact, the 18-year-old plays football and basketball for the Dreadnaughts.

Teammate Shawn Daniels also was born deaf, but with the help of cochlear implants and about 15 years of speech and hearing exercises, he can hear and speak.

Daniels thrived as a cross-country runner this season, and he too is beginning his first year on the varsity basketball team.

The boys may be different because they’re deaf, but as far as they care, they’re just Demetric and Shawn.

“It doesn’t feel weird at all. We’re all the same,” McNair said through an educational sign-language interpreter. “All the people, we wear the same uniform. The only difference is one can hear and one can’t. We’re all the same. I know the people are watching me and they know I can play, and I can see their excitement.”


Daniels is tall and thin, about 6-foot-3 with short hair and his cochlear implants hooked behind each ear. McNair is a little shorter, dressed in green shorts and a winter jacket with a flat-brimmed hat after a recent basketball practice.

The first thing you notice is how they look like normal high school students, joking around and laughing.

That attitude may be the most endearing part about them. Daniels and McNair are deaf, but in their minds, they’re the same as any other student. Other people, they say, seem to look at it as a bigger deal than it is.

“It’s fair,” said Daniels, who doesn’t wear his implants during races or games. “People like to do things, so … we do things we want to do. We’re competitive, too. There’s nothing different here. It’s just the way it is.”

Although Daniels does have some hearing and the ability to speak, he’s fluent in American sign language and can read lips well. McNair doesn’t have implants, but he’s fluent in sign language and can read lips, too.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about two or three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

More than 90 percent of those kids are born to parents who can hear. McNair has grown up in a deaf household and lives with his grandparents, but Daniels fits in that 90 percent. His parents and two brothers can hear just fine.

So, rather than communicate with them through sign language, he grew up reading lips and learning to speak with the help of those cochlear implants — which he said he’s had since he was about 2 years old.

Joan M. Weaver works as an educational sign language interpreter with the Polk County School Board. Though she is based out of Auburndale, she has a history of working with the boys.

“I love them to death, they’re two of my favorites,” she said. “It’s totally awesome. I’m just glad I can be part of their life and to help out when they need the help. All I do is facilitate communication — they’re the ones with the skills. They do everything else.”

Weaver worked with Daniels throughout this past cross-country season. She said with a laugh that she was mistaken for his mother at one of the meets.

“I loved it,” she said. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”


Daniels said that, without sound, it’s peaceful on the court. There’s no chaos, no noise, no distractions — it’s just you and your teammates. But it doesn’t come without some struggle.

This isn’t the first time Lakeland basketball coach Deron Collins has coached a deaf player. Rocco Lauricella was the Dreadnaughts’ starting point guard in 2007-08 and thrived despite being deaf.

Collins isn’t fluent in sign language, so he relies on interpreters to communicate with Daniels and McNair. Communication can be a challenge, but the same can be said about the rest of the team.

“The communication with non-deaf kids is hard enough in basketball,” Collins said. “I’ve had most of these kids for four years, and I’m still trying to get some of them to talk on defense.”

Collins said set plays are difficult because that’s when things break down on the court and communication becomes vital. The in-game interpreter for the deaf players has varied. Weaver has helped this year and Dennis Fine has done it on and off since 2005.

“Sometimes it’s hard in basketball, but I just have to learn a lot and learn to deal with being deaf and playing basketball at the same time,” Daniels said. “I have to look at other people and look for the ball. At least I still have eyes, so I can read their lips.”

It’s a process, and Collins has asked if they wanted him to flash cards from the bench to communicate plays. They declined.

“The players know, they’re basketball savvy,” said Fine, who is also an educational sign language interpreter with the School Board. “They know that, if there’s a play that’s going to be called, I’m jumping up and down on the sideline getting their attention to tell them the play.”

For Collins, most of the time the deaf players are just like the rest of his team.

“They might miss a rotation, they might miss a spot where they’re supposed to be,” he said. “But it’s not because of lack of effort or knowing, it’s just simply because of communication, and that’s difficult.”

Both boys will admit, reluctantly, that being deaf creates some challenges in sports. McNair said it’s easier for him to play basketball than football. He has a lot more to do on the football field, whereas basketball is a little less chaotic and, sometimes, more structured.

“We watch a lot of the video of the other games,” McNair said. “I learn a lot. I learn how to play. I know what to do, I learn all the plays. People see me and I’m deaf. They can see that I can play, so, we’re just the same as everybody else and it’s just the same as being anybody else.”

But maybe the easiest part of the transition to the varsity team has been the fact that they are doing it together.

“The support from each other is good,” McNair said, Daniels laughing in the background. “We’re like brothers and we love each other.”

 shawn and demetric





Lakeland High School varsity basketball players Demetric McNair, 18, left, and Shawn Daniels, 17, right, talk to each other as they practice inside the school’s gym recently. Daniels and McNair, both juniors, are deaf and communicate through sign language.


— Brady Fredericksen can be reached at or 863-802-7553. Follow him on Twitter: @Brady_Fred.


Click Here for link to article at The

2015 AAU National Champions!

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Today Xpress Elite became the 2015 AAU 9th Grade Division 1 Classic National Champions!!!  Congratulations to the players, coaches, and parents!


2015 YBOA Florida State Champions!

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Announcing the 2015 YBOA 9th Grade Florida State Champions, Xpress Elite.  This team has a record of 48-4 for the season, including 8 championships.  Congratulations and excellent work!

2015 YBOA Florida State Champions, Xpress 9th Grade Elite. This team has a record of 48-4, including 8 championships

9th Grade YBOA State Champions, Lakeland Xpress Elite

All Tournament Players, Jaryn McCann and Dwayne McCalebb and Tournament MVP, Schleiden Richemond

All Tournament Players, Jaryn McCann and Dwayne McCalebb and Tournament MVP, Schleiden Richemond







Florida YBOA State Championship

Friday, June 5th, 2015

June 5-7, 2015

Xpress 9th Grade Elite and JV Teams


Click Here for YBOA State Championship Schedules

Click Here for YBOA State Championship Court Location Map

Click Here for YBOA State Championship Website

Click Here for YBOA State Championship Hotel Accommodations


Games will be held at the following locations:

Cypress Lake Middle School, 8901 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33919
Dunbar High School, 3800 E. Edison Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33916
Dunbar Middle School, 4750 Winkler Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33966
Estero High School, 21900 River Ranch Road, Estero, FL 33928
Estero Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Boulevard, Estero, FL 33928 (Courts 1-3)
Fort Myers Middle Academy, 3050 Central Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33901
James Stephens International Academy, 1333 Marsh Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33905
Lehigh Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936 (Courts 1-2)
North Ft. Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Parkway, North Fort Myers, FL 33903 (Courts 1-2)
South Ft. Myers High School, 14020 Plantation Road, Fort Myers, FL 33912
Three Oaks Middle School, 18500 Three Oaks Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33967
Varsity Lakes Middle School, 801 Gunnery Road Lehigh Acres FL 33971
Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center, 16760 Bass Road, Fort Myers, FL 33908 (Courts 1-2)

Congratulations Xpress JV and 9th Grade Elite Teams!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Congratulations to the 15U Gold Champions Xpress 9th Grade Elite and to the 16U Silver Champions Xpress JV in the BIG SHOTS Lakeland Tournament this weekend!

JV Big Shots Lakeland 5-31-15

Xpress JV Team