WICHITA, Kansas – The start of high school football season is always something special, and for one local prep player it has extra meaning. Suiting up for the Wichita Southeast High School freshman squad, Irvin Vazquez is playing his first year of organized football. Beyond that, he’s doing it without the ability to hear while he’s on the field.
One look at Vazquez and you can see the potential. The freshman defensive lineman for Southeast has what most coaches are looking for.
Southeast coach Coy Noble told KSN, “You’re looking for someone that’s intense. You want someone that’s coming up there every play ready to play every snap. He definitely brings that to the field. He doesn’t know fear, so right now that’s the good thing about him.”
Irving wears hearing aids which would break off if he attempted wearing them underneath his helmet. For that reason, he keeps them off during practices and plans on doing the same for future games. It leaves him virtually one hundred percent deaf.
Signal calling from the sidelines takes on a whole new meaning. Unified School District 259 has provided a sign language interpreter for each of Irvin’s practices.
One interpreter told KSN, “I’ve been interpreting for the school district for 14 years and this is my first experience interpreting for football.”
Conveying proper emotion is a large part of it. Another one of Irvin’s interpreters, Amanda Pinaire said, “When the coach is angry, I have to show that in my facial expressions and also my signs are a lot bigger.”
While Irvin can’t hear, he speaks volumes on the football field. Coach Coy said, “He’ll definitely play a lot.”
Wichita Southeast varsity coach Mike Schartz added, “We want to build our program on kids like him who are committed and overachieve. He has a great attitude every day and that’s what we appreciate about him.”