Photo by Irina Nizovtseva/ Viking - Theatre major Chiara Freedom, 51, plays doubles with her teammate Jilian Drake during a match at LBCC. Despite deafness, Freedom remains active and competitive with sports.
Photo by Irina Nizovtseva/ Viking – Theatre major Chiara Freedom, 51, plays doubles with her teammate Jilian Drake during a match at LBCC. Despite deafness, Freedom remains active and competitive with sports.
Tennis player remains competitive despite deafness.

By Jon Peacock / Staff Writer

Chiara Freedom isn’t your average student-athlete; she is a 51-year-old, theatre major, tennis player at LBCC and she is deaf.

The New York native said she grew up physical, always being active, “playing baseball, basketball and volleyball.” Freedom once played for a deaf softball team, however the team shut down and ceased playing.

She enjoys doing anything relating to theatre, including playwriting, acting, doing make-up and sword fighting.

After taking a theatre class in school, she became interested in it and fell in love with the arts. She graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

After graduating, Freedom did a little traveling and found herself wanting to move to California and has been in Long Beach ever since.

For work she has been employed at many different places doing everything from mechanical art to designing layouts.

A few years ago, Freedom discovered a women’s football team, the Long Beach Aftershock. She emailed the coaches showing interest in playing on the team. When she got there, the coaches realized she was deaf. After discussion, the coaches decided to let her try out for the team. Freedom felt intimidated though by all the players due to their size.

Freedom enjoyed playing defense on the team, as a cornerback. However she always wanted to play offense. When the team moved to Downey, Freedom didn’t make the move with them.

Tennis was a sport that she had never played until she tried out for the Viking tennis team two years ago. At first she tried out for women’s basketball and softball, but she said she ran into what she believed was trepidation. Later on she was contacted by the athletic department and they urged her to try out for the women’s tennis team.

Freedom said her first time playing tennis was difficult since she had no prior knowledge of the sport or any of the proper techniques. Coach Ken Thomas, former LBCC tennis coach, helped her perfect her technique and taught her how to properly play tennis.

Freedom said the new tennis coach, Renzo Maggi, improved a lot of her technique. She likes Renzo for how he treats all of the players equally. Some of her teammates have learned some simple signs to communicate with her.

All three years here at LBCC Freedom has been able to get all A’s in her classes. Though Freedom is still in school, she hopes to one day work in a job related to theatre.