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Tellinghuisen’s Work Ethic Places Her Among The Best

KAREN TELLINGHUISEN

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is the biography of Karen Tellinghuisen, one of nine inductees in the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024. The other inductees are Karen Bakewell, Daniel Bryner, Cheryl Burns, Tom D’Angelo, Doug Kaltenbach, Rod Maloy, Carlene Sluberski and Judy Young. These nine individuals will be formally inducted at the CSHOF’s 42nd induction banquet on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 19. Tickets are available at the CSHOF, 15 W. 3rd St., Jamestown; at the Jock Shop, 10 Harrison St., Jamestown; at Matt’s News, 93 E. 3rd St., Dunkirk; by calling banquet chairman Chip Johnson at 716-485-6991; or online at https://www.chautauquasportshalloffame.org/.

“Falconer Girl Wins Javelin In World Games” read the headline in The Post-Journal of July 22, 1977. “Karen Wins Gold Medal” was the headline in the Buffalo Evening News article.

The subject of the these two stories, and others like them that were picked up in various newspapers across the country affiliated with United Press International (UPI) news agency, was a strawberry-blond, 18-year-old from Falconer, who won a gold medal in the javelin at the World Olympics Games for the Deaf in Bucharest, Romania. Karen Tellinguisen’s throw of 127 feet, 3 inches was 2 feet farther than Monika Laux of West Germany.

Karen’s accomplishments began at birth. The daughter of Rachel and Edward Tellinghuisen, she was born Aug. 26, 1958, three months premature, along with a stillborn twin, and only weighed 2 pounds, 14 ounces. She spent the first 67 days of her life in WCA Hospital.

The “miracle” baby was healthy and strong, but at 18 months her parents discerned that their daughter could not hear. She initially received instruction at SUNY Fredonia and by age 3 she began formal schooling at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo.

At St. Mary’s, Karen displayed an affinity for and a talent at athletics. She played volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field. She was the Most Valuable Player on the volleyball, basketball and track & field teams in high school and she received the Outstanding Athlete Award at St. Mary’s School.

She was named a 1977 Deaf Girls Basketball All-American. She was inducted into St. Mary’s School for the Deaf Hall of Fame in 1998.

Tellinghuisen’s coach at St. Mary’s, Lou Pennella, noticed that she had a very powerful arm playing softball, suggested she try throwing the javelin and with considerable practice she became quite proficient. He took Karen to the 1977 USA tryouts for the World Deaf Olympic Games at Gallaudet University (Washington, D. C.) and she earned a spot on the track and field team.

The village of Falconer and the surrounding communities rallied to raise funds for Karen and her mother to go to Bucharest, Romania for the World Games. After winning the previously mentioned gold medal, Karen was welcomed back to Falconer with a huge homecoming party. She was feted at a Jamestown Expos baseball game by local dignitaries and a street in Falconer was named “Karen Lane” in her honor.

Following her graduation from St. Mary’s in 1978, she attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. She continued training with the javelin and in 1981 competed in the Deaf World Olympic Games, this time in Cologne, Germany. Again she returned home with a medal, this time a bronze.

Karen’s positive attitude and strong work ethic were keys for the accomplishments she had as an athlete. Those same attributes led her to have a successful 30-year career as a calculations clerk for New York State. She never let her inability to hear to be a handicap for her goals. Tellinghuisen retired in 2017 and is now living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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