What makes Melissa one amazing woman? A real love of softball for starters, and true dedication to her team and her sport. And if you've ever thought you couldn't excel at something because of a real or imagined obstacle, you'll be sure to get extra inspiration. Melissa is hearing impaired, and she doesn't let it - or anything - get in between her and that softball. We caught up with her recently where she told us about her super-competitive spirit, what it's like to play with hearing and hearing impaired teammates, and more.
A Day in the Life
A devoted fan in diapers. "My mom's played softball with her team at work for over 20 years. I would sit in a little playpen and watch the games, then when I got older, they asked me to be their bat girl. The first time I played on a team was when I was 8. Now I play at my high school."
The true meaning of teamwork. "This year, I am the only hard-of-hearing girl on the team. But before, we had deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people on the team. I was really good friends with two deaf girls who were on varsity."
The true meaning of teamwork, part two. "If a deaf person is playing outfield, you have to use hand signals. It's really hard because you have to look at the ball, run, and then look to the girl who is next to you! You have to wave your hand, signaling you have the ball. So as a deaf person, you trip a lot playing outfield! You have to look over to the deaf player to see if she is calling for the ball, if you see her waving."
Two are better than one. "We have two coaches on the varsity team. The head coach, Julia, is pretty strict and she pushes me and makes sure I do my best. The other coach, Dan, is my interpreter on the team."
Getting psyched for a game. "Before a game, we all sit and have a pep talk. We say what we expect to happen, what happened the last time we played this team, what to look for, and what to do differently. We shout our school's name and other things."
Roaring into Regions. "A big win for us was during the Regions. We hadn't won the first round in the Regions for something like 10 years. Last year, we made it to round four. That was our big accomplishment, and we were all so proud of where we got."
The agony of the ankle. "One time we were playing against the best private school in the area for sports and the score was 2-2 in the seventh inning with a girl on third base, and up came their best batter. I wanted so much to jump in the game, but I couldn't because I had a torn ligament in my left ankle. Instead, I was standing there a nervous wreck - I couldn't stand it! The batter hit a home run and the runner on third came home. Major disappointment."
Awesome advice. "If a hard-of-hearing or deaf person wanted to play softball, I would tell her to reach for her dreams. Don't stop because you're the only hard-of-hearing player. Go for it and do your best!"
Her softball star never stops rising. "When I was a freshman I played on JV, then my sophomore year I played for both teams. My junior year, I played on the varsity team full time. I'll play on varsity again for my senior year."
Versatility is her game. "I play outfield right now, but when I was on JV, I played every position except pitcher and catcher. I pitched a lot as a kid and played second base for a long time. Basically, I have played almost every position during my softball career!"
Why competition is cool. "I love tight competition. If you are playing against a team and you're up by five runs, it's so boring! You want competition so you can challenge yourself."
A future in physical therapy. "I want to become a physical therapist so I can help deaf and hard-of-hearing people who have sports-related injuries."