Bigger than basketball: Mandan high school player signs post-game interview for his parents

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:39 PM CST
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MANDAN, N.D. (KFYR) – The Super A State Basketball Tournament kicks off in Fargo Thursday. Only eight teams make it to this weekend’s event.

And while the Mandan Braves didn’t qualify this year, there’s still some good news.

The boys’ team has gotten a lot of attention in the past few days for something that happened after the final whistle of a game in the WDA tournament last week.

Mandan junior Rustin Medewald did his first live interview after Friday’s win over Williston. He was named MVP in the WDA loser-out game.

And while he played a great game, it’s what Rustin did after the game that caught people’s attention.

PSP announcer Cole Higlin asked Rustin to interpret his coach’s interview for his parents.

Rustin’s parents, Mary and Randy, were both born deaf, and use sign language to communicate.

“That was pretty big deal to me. I was just amazed, and I was so happy to see him signing and that he did that during the interview was amazing to me,” said Rustin’s mom, Mary Medenwald.

“Was it a proud mom moment?” reporter Jody Kerzman asked.

“Definitely. Big time,” she answered.

“It was amazing,” added Rustin’s dad, Randy Medenwald. “It was surprising to me that he was asked to do that and at the same time when I was watching him, I was wondering if he was nervous. I could understand him, but I knew he was nervous. It was so amazing to see people looking at him and to see him signing to us, we were very proud.”

Rustin has known sign language most of his life.

“I learned it at a young age,” he said.

It’s how he talks to his parents. Often their conversations center around basketball. Both Mary and Randy were stand-out players in the 80s.

“They like to talk about it a lot and how good they were back in the day,” Rustin said.

Both are in the hall of fame at the School for the Deaf. Both played on leagues after high school, but these days, they’re happy to watch their son on the court and maybe challenge him to a game of HORSE in the driveway.

“Who usually wins those games?” asked Kerzman.

“Usually him,” admitted Rustin, pointing to his dad. “He’s still got it.”

“Dad is saying mostly Rustin and Rustin is saying mostly Dad,” said the interpreter.

While there is debate over who wins those games, there is no question that Mary and Randy are proud of their son for what he did both on and off the court.

“Maybe it touched their hearts to see that he could do that and that not only does he know basketball well, but he can also communicate in sign language,” said Randy.

A sign of something bigger than any game.

Mary says when Rustin first started playing sports in Mandan, no one knew she and Randy were deaf. Over the years they’ve been able to teach some sign language to their fellow sports parents.