In the summer before her freshman year of college, Missouri Western soccer player Sydney Andrews was in Turkey playing for Team USA to win the World Cup. Turkey was the home of the 2012 Deaflympics, where hearing impaired athletes from all over the world meet to compete.
Andrews was born deaf.; she has had to learn how to adapt to everyone around her since she was a child. Although she wears hearing aids, she still has to read lips in order to communicate.
“If I don’t have them (hearing aids) in, I basically get nothing,” Andrews said. “When I do have them, in it’s like a rumble, like how you hear thunder, and you can feel it. Like if a door was slammed, I’d feel it and know something happened, but I wouldn’t really know what it was.”
The Deaflympics are separate from the Paralympics, and were created 63 years ago because they do not have a deaf category in the Paralympics. Paralympics are Olympic events that are categorized by game and subcategorized by a person’s physical disability.
Andrews, who wears No. 10 for Western, started out playing soccer at just 5 years old when her uncle was coaching a team. She played for Wichita Northwest High School in Wichita, Kan., and was Honorable Mention All-City as well as a Titan Classic Champion. She was being recruited by multiple schools, one of them being Washburn. The head coach of Washburn knew she was deaf and told her to try out for the Deaflympic team, and she ultimately made the team as the only player representing the Midwest.
The Deaflypics was an even playing field for Andrews. She was on a field full of athletes who have always dealt with the same problems. For their convenience, the referees were given flags instead of whistles. Both coaches and players knew what was needed to communicate with each other, and used a lot of signals. One thing that helped the team chemistry grow was watching U.S .soccer play in London.
“We were actually over in Turkey and sat and watched the U.S. women’s team on TV,” Andrews said. Their first game they were down 0-2 and ended up coming back to win 4-2. We were really pumped up, saying ‘If they can do it, we can do it,’ and no matter what happens we can turn it around and make it positive.”
Andrews ultimately chose Western because of her trust in head coach Chad Edwards, who, as a coach, has had just as much adapting to do as Andrews.
“There is a lot of nonverbal communication that has to happen,” Edwards said. “I’ve never had a deaf player before, so it’s been a learning process for me and how I need to communicate. Right now I’m utilizing the players. I’ll tell one of the players something Sydney needs to know and they’ll go relay that information to her. It’s a work in progress, and we’ll get it figured out as she goes throughout her career. Everyone has really done a good job at helping and figuring out ways to make our communication better.”
Sophomore teammate K.C. Ramsell has seen improvement in communication since Andrews has been here.
“Sometimes she can’t always hear coach in practice,” Ramsell said. “We’ve all definitely gotten used to helping her, and no matter what we are always there for her.”
Andrews’ proudest moment was one that only a few could understand; having a 1-0 lead against Russia and seeing that final flag go up, knowing she and her team won the World Cup. Andrews is now ready to start a new chapter and has brought her talents and experience to St. Joseph.