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Baseball: Being deaf doesn’t stop DeLeon from doing what he wants

By Adam Zuvanich for the Odessa American
summarized by Alyssa Smith, staff writer

Fabian DeLeon, who was born deaf, has played baseball since he was in elementary school. He is on the Odessa High School baseball team, and although he hasn’t gotten to play as much as he’d like, he wants to stick it out for the season. The high school senior earns As and Bs and is a member of the National Honor Society. He plans on attending Odessa College after graduation. While DeLeon admits that sometimes deaf children will be teased by their peers, he says through a sign language interpreter, “I’m proving to them that deaf people can do anything.”

His baseball team thinks of him “another one of the guys” and does not treat him differently because he is deaf. In fact, some of DeLeon’s teammates have learned some sign language. His coach, Leroy Mansanales also knows some sign language through his wife who used to work as an interpreter. DeLeon recognizes the efforts of his teammates and coach to communicate and acknowledges that they do make him feel more comfortable while at the ballpark.

DeLeon received a cochlear implant in 2006, and since then, he has had the limited ability to speak and hear. Yet, he still has an interpreter in class and at practices and games. DeLeon’s interpreters usually interpret what is said during team huddles before and after games as well as instructions from the coaches during games. When DeLeon has been on the field, he has gotten on base in two of his three appearances at the plate. DeLeon also made a strong defensive play, getting the runner out even as they collided. He serves as an inspiration to his teammates, and his mother says that he has already done more than some hearing kids choose to do.

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