Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman was an ordinary three-year-old growing up in Fullerton, California until his parents noticed that his speech was not developing as it should. Having his hearing tested confirmed that Coleman had lost his hearing due to a recessive genetic trait. Fitted with hearing aids on both ears, Coleman continued along with this “minor flaw,” as his parents insisted he consider his deafness. And while he was teased by some people in school, his stellar grades proved that he was learning and overcoming his challenge.
He also excelled as an athlete and proved to be an exceptional football player, despite some early issues with keeping his hearing aids in place. Two skull caps – one to keep the hearing aids in place and one to keep them dry – were his mother’s solution to the problem. Coleman’s football skills continued to develop, along with his ability to read lips and keep his head on a swivel so he could see those speaking to him.
As an athlete at Fullerton (California) High School, Coleman broke numerous school records and was named ESPN’s No. 2 fullback prospect as a senior. He then played for the UCLA Bruins, despite an initial concern about him being able to understand the quarterback’s audibles with 80,000 fans screaming in the stands. That issue was solved by simply having the quarterback mouth the audibles in his direction.
Coleman missed only one game during his entire college career, although he had his ups and downs and had some issues with large crowds at away games. After a challenging sophomore season, Coleman rebounded as a junior and he registered several productive games. The pro scouts began to take notice, and now he is a Super Bowl champion.
Coleman never uses his deafness as an excuse, but will talk about it when the topic is overcoming challenges. The Seahawks use him in multiple situations and know that his “minor flaw” will not keep him from giving his all. Considered an “extraordinary kid” by Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll, Coleman hopes that his success will inspire hearing-impaired kids to continue to work toward their goals, letting nothing get in their way. “That’s why I always talk to kids, and I’m glad to be in this situation because I can help,” Coleman said. “I get to be a role model for everybody else.”
Steffen Parker, a ninth-generation Vermonter, has been an instrumental music educator for 31 years, with degrees in performance, education and conducting. Parker organizes several music events in his state and region, and is in his 17th year as the Vermont All State Music Festival Director. He started a computer company, Music Festival Software Solutions, to help other states move their data processing online and provides that type of service to several groups, including the Vermont Principals’ Association and the Vermont Superintendents’ Association. Parker is a member of the High School Today Publications Committee. Information for this article was obtained from Yahoo Sports Shutdown Corner.