Football season is right around the quarter and we’re getting excited by all the coverage of inspiring athletes, including the Viking’s rookie running back Derrick Coleman. The UCLA grad and undrafted footballer is taking a stab at making the roster for the 2012-2013 season. Not only does he have steep competition on the field, he also has the added challenge of being hard of hearing.
NBC sports featured the athlete in an article last week and we couldn’t help but want to root on this inspirational young man!
Coleman, diagnosed with hearing loss at age 3, wears hearing aids, but in situations with a lot of ambient noise (like a football game), he has difficulty hearing with them and uses numerous strategies to aid in his understanding. The strategies that help him navigate the field include lip reading, grabbing the quarter back after a huddle to double-check the play, and watching for movements to ensure he doesn’t make a false start. He wears a pair of skull caps under his helmet; one to keep his hearing aids dry and one to keep them in his ears.
The article explained that his “parents never let him use the condition as a crutch, and to this day he’s become a master at adapting.”
Not only has Coleman made his mark on the field, he is also helping to pave a path for students with hearing-impairments. He is trying to erase the stigma bullies might latch onto by showing that it is okay to be different. He speaks to classes and inspires kids to dream big.
We look forward to following Coleman’s story, and seeing the great things he continues to do with his life!