Where Can I Listen To Texas A&M Football A Deafly Inspiring Story

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A Deafly Inspiring Story

College football is an arena where many inspiring stories rise to the surface and touch the heart. It is also a place where the passions of the players, the enthusiasm of the fans, the wishes of the coaches and the expectations of the community come together to create a unique atmosphere. The games are full of fans. Teams are considered home teams. Players collide and helmets collide. Marching bands honor their teams. 40000 plus fans are loud and critical. Amid this commotion and noise, all Martel Van Zant hears is his own heartbeat. His story is deafeningly inspiring.

Van Zant is deaf, born without eardrums after his mother suffered chicken pox while pregnant. He can feel the vibrations from the screaming crowd and from the kick, but he can’t hear the referee’s whistle and has to confirm with his eyes that the game is over. Raised in Tyler, Texas, Van Zant grew up like any other school kid. His parents did not treat him differently. They kept the same hopes in him. Van Zant attended a mainstream high school and thrived in his community. The source of this success of the inspirational story was sports.

Growing up in a sporting community and with four brothers to play with, athletics was a way of life for the Van Zant family. Martel excelled in this field. He leveled the playing field with sports, and distanced himself from his classmates. He first started playing football. He also tried his hand at basketball and running. He excelled in all these games but did not feel much satisfaction with these games. He was introduced to American football in the eighth grade. He learned the game and compensated for his hearing loss by watching the ball. His focus on the ball along with his natural athleticism made him a very good defender. The more he played, the more he realized that he could use football as a lever for his education and inspirational story.

By the time he finished his career at Lee High, he had 21 interceptions and was listed as a top-100 prospect in Texas, drawing the attention of Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma State, SMU, TCU and Texas A&M. His ability caught the attention of former OSU coach Les Miles. Other coaches were hesitant to draft him, but Miles, with some basic sign language skills, took a chance on Van Zant and signed him to OSU. The rest of this inspirational story as you can tell is history.

How does a deaf football player try to bridge the gap in the high tempo of American football? Luckily, Van Zant has the help of Allie Lee, his translator of sorts. Lee is an inspirational story himself. He travels 132 miles from Oklahoma City to Stillwater every day, following Van Zant to classes, team meetings, practices and games. If playing Division IA football is a dream come true for Van Zant, being a part of the Cowboys family is just as much of a thrill for Lee.

He may not like to call himself a “deaf athlete,” but Van Zant has seen how it inspires others. He received letters from deaf children and saw the excitement in their eyes when they approached him, an example of never giving up on their own dreams and expectations. These are all inspiring stories to write.

“I’m a role model for these younger deaf people that they can do it too,” Van Zant said. “It makes them get more involved in their interests and go to college and follow the same steps and do the same things that I did.”

His triumph was not lost on those outside the deaf community. He was nominated for the FekEx Orange Bowl FVAA Courage Award, which honors athletes/coaches who have demonstrated courage, on or off the field, including overcoming injury or physical handicap, preventing disaster or surviving adversity. Van Zant’s mother sums up Martel’s inspirational story best: “I really believe that God does things for a reason,” she said. “He doesn’t put more on us than we can handle. I never doubted that he would do the things he’s doing now. That’s just my faith.”

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