Recently, the Seattle Seahawks player, Derrick Coleman has gotten some attention not only for his exemplary playing skills, but also because he is legally deaf. Mr. Coleman, plays the position of fullback, if my research is correct, and he hails from UCLA. I learned about Derrick Coleman at the beginning of the season, soon after I told the host of the radio show I promote, that one of the followers on Twitter, happened to be deaf.
After reading about Derrick Coleman, hearing about his inspirational commercial, I reached out to this follower, who just happens to be one of my favorite followers on Twitter. I wondered what experiences he recalled as a child, and how he felt about deaf athletes. Below is the letter he shared with me. I hope you find it interesting, and if you should have anything you'd life to share, simply let me know:
Some of you may know that I am a substitute teacher. Recently, while in the cafeteria, monitoring the children during their lunch time, I noticed several of the children using sign language. I felt a bit ignorant, that I could not tell what they were saying. It occurred to me that I might want to learn some of the basics, since if I were going to want to communicate to all of the children while doing lunch duty, I would need to learn.
I can't remember how it was when I was in elementary school, as respects to children who couldn't hear. I didn't have any friends who had a hearing disability, and not having anyone close to me, who couldn't hear, and being able to hear myself, I guess I just never gave it much consideration.
In the world of sports there has been some recent media attention to one of the players on the Seattle Seahawks who is deaf. His name is Derrick Coleman. Mr. Coleman hails from UCLA and is, if my research is correct, a fullback. Now you know way more about that position than me. I tend to rely on my followers to educate me when it comes to the positions in football.
The article isn't about Derrick Coleman. It's about the experiences of one of my followers, who also happens to be deaf. His name is Eddie, and after reading about Derrick Coleman's inspirational journey, I reached out to Eddie to see if he could relate in any way, and if he wouldn't mind sharing some of his experiences with me. What follows is Eddie's account of his recount of his childhood experience, when he didn't make the "All Star" team. I was hoping you might want to read it, and then should you have a thought, maybe share it with me. Eddie has asked me to ask him some questions, and honestly, I couldn't think of any right off the bat. [ No pun intended. ]
Mr. Coleman's story is truly inspirational. The odds he has had to overcome, and succeed, are astronomical, and I'm humbled. I'm also very proud of him.
That said, there are a few things he and I share in common, and a few that our paths are VERY different on. I was diagnosed with my hearing loss at the age of 4. My mother noticed I was having difficulty hearing things. I got my first hearing aid then, and wore it daily until about the age of 17, when I had a sudden drop in hearing loss.
I remember the day well, Christmas Eve, 1984. I was listening to my best friend practice her talent portion for a beauty pageant. Noticed my hearing kept cutting in and out. So we went for tests (many of them) and finally they figured out I had a fluid buildup behind my eardrum that required surgery. I wasn't able to wear my hearing aid for about 3 months after that, and basically, it stopped helping me. I could hear some, but never well enough again to where it was beneficial. SO, the last song I ever heard was sung by her, and it stays with me even now (Almost Paradise).
As I was growing up, I was pretty good in baseball, good enough to where I was an everyday starter in Little League and Babe Ruth (today's Cal Ripken League) league. My hearing didn't matter, or so I thought. I learned my first hard lesson when I was 12, my last year of Little League. Only lost one game pitching that year, lead the league in steals, etc. When I wasn't pitching, I was the starter at shortstop. I figured I was a shoo-in to make the All Star team. To my surprise, they chose my BACKUP, who only got in when I came out of games for good (they required coaches to play everyone at least an inning).
When I asked my coach, he refused to tell me why. None of the other league coaches would either. I continued on, though. In Babe Ruth, I was an immediate starter at 2nd base (more senior person played SS) on an older team with a lot of talent. Still, through the years, same thing happened. But I played for the love of the game. When I tried out for HS, I got cut each year my first 3 years, always making it to the last cut date. When I asked the coach, he always said "I'm just too afraid you will get hurt in a game for not being able to hear".
My Junior year, one of my dear friends got killed on the baseball field, dying from a line drive to the head. This was just 2 weeks after the conversation between the coach and I, and I will never forget he said "See, that's what I was scared of". All I could say was "He could hear, and he still got hit. The odds are the same either way", but he refused to relent. So my senior year, I didn't put myself through that again, and I sat out.
Now, I was good enough in Babe Ruth, I had some scouts/coaches from our Single A team (Pikeville Cubs, a farm club for Chicago) come watch some of my games.
So, flash ahead to 1990. I'm at Gallaudet University, having transferred there to try the school out. I immediately hit it off with a guy named Mark Drolsbaugh. He played for the school baseball team, and was looking for someone to throw a little with him to loosen up for fall practices/conditioning. I had a glove, and so we went to throw. After a little throwing, I started to really cut loose and burn the heaters in. He stopped and told me I HAD to try out. So I did, and made the team. Pitcher, and backup SS to him. He's on Twitter, great guy. @DrolzUncensored
Not sure what else to say. I think you might want to play reporter and ask me questions to focus me a little more. Lol