Findlay's Carpenter succeeds despite hearing impairment

Dan's Interpreter Ann Smith

The sounds of high school football on a Friday night cannot be duplicated. They're also something that Findlay senior defensive tackle, Daniel Carpenter has never experienced.

Carpenter is hearing impaired, he's been that way since birth, but that has never stopped him from playing the sport he loves. "Get to hit somebody...broken arms, broken legs," that was Carpenter's tongue-in-cheek response when asked what he likes most about playing football.

Although he and his family live in Wapakoneta, Daniel goes to school in Findlay as part of their hearing impaired program. During his class he wears a hearing aid, but, because of his helmet, he's not able to wear it during games or practice. That's where one of his teachers, and interpreter, Ann Smith comes in.

"I've been working with him since he's been a freshman, so it's been a lot of fun seeing him mature and how he relates to me and the other kids, he's a great kid," said Smith. Ann has been an interpreter for 17 years, and this isn't her first foray into sports. During the spring, she helps out with a hearing impaired athlete on the Trojan softball team.

Because Daniel can't hear on the field, he relies heavily on not only Ann, but his teammates, and head coach Mark Ritzler. "He's going on ball movement, he sees the signals form the sideline, he's able to read the lips of our linebackers if they're calling something out," said Coach Ritzler.

"Since he can't hear all the calls...the linebackers make, we usually tap him on the hips..we've had very few difficulties with that," said Corey Bern, senior defensive end.

Since he can't hear the whistle, Carpenter simply stops when the player is tackled. Occasionally there are late hits, but the referees are informed of Daniel's impairment before the game, so any flags are usually picked up.

One area where he needs no assistance is when the ball is snapped. "As a player he's very competitive and he probably comes off the ball the hardest out of all of us," said Bern. "[He's] someone that stood out right away as a nose guard, perfect place for him to play right over top of the ball...He doesn't want to use it ever as an excuse, never would use that for anything, he just wants to play football," said Coach Ritzler.