Deafness no deterrent

Deafness no deterrent

September 13th, 2010 by Patrick Smith in News

Amid constant shouts and chatter from coaches, a play is called and No. 75 breaks from the huddle.

Sweat pouring from his face, the linebacker watches the snap, finds the ball carrier and pulls him to the ground. A whistle sounds to signal the play is dead.

But No. 75 never heard a sound. He's deaf.

Lorenzo Lewis, 14, a stout Hixson High School freshman, plays like any other linebacker despite being deaf since he was 3.

"They don't see me differently. They treat me like everyone else," Lewis said through his interpreter, Matthew Waterhouse. "I don't like people being more nice because I'm deaf."

Lewis, who started playing football in sixth grade, said the game is about proving he's no different than any other player.

"I enjoy playing football against hearing players; it really challenges me," he said. "I really want to help other deaf people to believe in themselves, to show that they can play with hearing people. And it's not too late for them to try either."

Hixson coach Houston White said Lewis has never let being deaf stop him.

"He does whatever the team needs. He's a tremendous individual. His deafness is never an excuse," White said.

For Lewis, football is about potential, not limitations. It is about his ability, not his disability.

"He never let's his deafness be a hindrance; he's got the drive," Waterhouse said.

Midway through practice, the coaches call for a water break. Lewis takes off his helmet and, before taking a drink, another player hits him on his pads, a compliment for a hard hit.

"I really want to show that anybody can play football. I believe that we can succeed; we can do anything," Lewis. said

A whistle blows, Lewis smiles and gives a high-five to a teammate. He's ready to go again.