After graduating from Tyler Lee High School in 2017, Korbin Casey didn’t know what the future would hold.
Casey, who was born deaf, played for the Red Raiders varsity basketball team as a senior, but once his high school years were complete, he wasn’t sure what his next step would be.
He took a year to “work and work out and tried to improve myself to get ready for college.”
And now he's taking that next step and heading to SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf in Big Spring. Casey signed with the school Wednesday as his family and the school’s athletic director watched the proceedings in the REL Varsity Gym.
“I’ve been at SWCID four years now, and this our first recruit that we’ve actually come out to see sign,” said Athletic Director Roderica Johnson, adding that the school is the only deaf community college for the deaf. “It’s a pretty good feeling.
When the Caseys heard about the school, they wanted to go out and look at the campus. After the visit and meeting the coaches, Casey decided that was the best fit for him.
“I’m excited,” Casey said through his interpreter Rebecca Rogers. “It’s a good opportunity. I’m ready for college. I’m thankful for my parents and coaches for teaching me everything.”
His father, Kyle Casey, said it was an unbelievable feeling to see his son's success.
“I know where he has come from and the obstacles he’s had to overcome, and I just couldn’t be prouder of what he’s done and what he’s accomplished," Kyle Casey said. “Basketball was the one thing in his life that was a motivating factor. He latched on to basketball at a young age. Of course we didn’t have any idea that he was going to be 6-foot-4.
"He’s never let go of the dream of playing basketball, so I’m happy that he’s going to get the chance to play at the next level.”
Head coach Alan Simmons, who started at Lee when Casey was a senior, said it's an incredible opportunity for a player who has so much to give.
“He taught me so much. I don’t know if I taught him very much, but I know he taught me a lot about communication and to come up with different ways to communicate as a coach," Simmons said. "He has made me a better person and a better coach, and hopefully we had an impact on his life, too. I’m looking forward to seeing what he gets to do at the next level, and I’m so proud for him and his family.”
Casey, who also played baseball and football growing up, said he plans to major in general education.
“I want to represent that being deaf doesn’t mean you can’t do it. We can do a lot of things,” Casey said.
The SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf Rattlers compete against Western Texas College, Brookhaven, Frank Phillips, Richland and others.
After two years in Big Spring, Casey plans to continue his basketball career at Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing located in Washington, D.C.
Lee serves as a feeder school for deaf students throughout the region with students coming from Palestine, Canton and more.
Rayna Todd, who has been with Tyler ISD for 22 years, said Casey is the third athlete she has worked with who will play a college sport, joining Zac Reagan (Tyler Junior College baseball) and Martel Van Zant (Oklahoma State football).