The Griffons are off to one of their best starts in program history, and Sydney Andrews has played a pivotal role engineering that start. Plus, she is doing it all with a hearing disability.
Soccer is a sport were communication is key, so it is hard to imagine how she’s able to hear on the field, while also playing at a high level.
“I am deaf in both ears,” Andrews said. “I got hearing aids when I was two.”
Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Andrews was born deaf, but that never distracted her from doing what she wanted.
One of the keys for Andrews is being aware of things around her. She feels that her teammates do a good job with making sure she is aware.
“Because I am deaf, I have to be a lot more aware of the (other) players,” Andrews said. “The players on the field can’t talk to me. (That) makes it harder for my teammates, but I have really good teammates.”
One of those teammates includes Sarah Lyle. Lyle noted that Andrews has become one of the leaders of the team.
“For the two years I have been here, I have seen her grow from her personality on-the-field and off-the-field,” Lyle said. “She is a more positive and upbeat person. She does not really get the credit she should, but she has really been a positive role model for the girls on the team.”
That type comfort is why Andrews decided to come to Western. With offers from other schools, Andrews felt like Western was a family.
“I had some other contacts, but this school stood out to me,” Andrews said. “We have a great team atmosphere, a great coach and a great group of girls.”
The defender’s disability has opened up to some wonderful opportunities along the way, including being able to travel overseas to play soccer.
“I played for the USA Deaf Women’s National Team,” Andrews said. “I joined the team in 2012 and went out for a tryout. I was actually getting recruited by a coach and he told me about it.”
On the experience, Andrews thought it was interesting playing with other deaf players. She even came back to the states with a medal.
“That year, we went up to Turkey for the deaf World Cup, beat Russia and took first. It was pretty awesome,” Andrews said. “The following year, we went to [the] Deaf Olympics in Bulgaria, and we won there, too. This year we are going to Italy.”
Being deaf has it’s disadvantages, but Andrews is determined to not let it hold her back, not even on the field.
“Personally, it’s kind of nice, being out there, just out there playing,” Andrews said. “You don’t hear fans, although fans are nice, there are no distractions.”