Two former University of Louisville athletes will compete on the new season of the The Amazing Race.
Sisters LaKisha and Jennifer Hoffman are among the 11 two-person teams who will compete for $1 million on the 14th season of the CBS reality series, which returns Feb. 15.
They will join the series first deaf contestant; pairs of stuntmen, Southwest Airlines flight attendants and former National Football League cheerleaders; and a Hollywood screenwriter and his father, a well-known gay-rights activist.
The Hoffmans are originally from the Chicago area, but were standouts at U of L. LaKisha, 28, played for the women's basketball team, and Jennifer, 24, played volleyball, where she was ranked No. 4 in the nation in blocking. Now, LaKisha is a program coordinator for a non-profit youth organization in New York. Jennifer is a marketing assistant in Louisville.
Most contestants on The Amazing Race must tackle language barriers during their trek around the world. As the reality series' first-ever deaf contestant, Luke Adams had double the trouble.
"I thought it would be easy because my mother and I have always communicated really well," Adams, 22, who doesn't speak or read lips, said through an interpreter. He will compete on a team with his mother, Margie. "In the airports, my mom had to do all of the work because she had to do all of the talking. It was kind of hard for me to depend on her to do all of that."
"In the beginning, I think Luke didn't have a whole lot of trust that I was going to communicate all of the information that I was receiving to him properly," said Margie. "I would ask a question or for directions, and it would take five minutes to get the answer, then I'd give him a 30-second reply. He'd say, 'No, you didn't tell me everything.'"
Brother-and-sister team Victor Jih, 35, and Tammy Jih, 26, both graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and now work as corporate litigators in California.
"Having seven years of higher education under our belts, we thought it would give us a big advantage because we're good at learning," said Tammy. "We went into this race knowing that everything we would face would be difficult and new and things that we're not familiar with, but we were really comfortable in the fact that we're good learners."
Beginning at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base near Long Beach, Calif., the Emmy-winning CBS reality competition, which premieres at 8 p.m. Feb. 15, will follow the teams for 12 episodes as they travel over 40,000 miles in 22 days to nine countries, including — for the first time — Romania as well as Switzerland, India and Russia.
"We shot in the city of Krasnoyarsk and the city of Novosibirsk," said Amazing Race executive producer Bertram van Munster. "The teams get from one city to another via the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Of course, it started off nice, but we got into this Siberian snowstorm with below-zero temperatures, which we weren't used to. It was pretty exciting."
At 68, Mel White is the season's oldest contestant. The gay-rights activist and former speechwriter for Pat Robertson and Billy Graham is teamed with his son Mike White, 38, the actor-screenwriter who penned such films as School of Rock and Nacho Libre. Despite the frantic pace of the race, Mike insists he didn't bicker much with his dad.
"Compared to some of the other teams, I think we got along like a Hallmark card," he said.