A McKinney High School varsity volleyball player is preparing to represent the country on the USA Deaf Volleyball Team.
Sammie Hicks, 17, will compete at the 2020 World Deaf Volleyball Championships in Chianciano Terme, Italy in July. Over Thanksgiving break, she'll compete in Brazil in a pre-tournament qualifier for the 2021 Deaflympics – according to McKinney ISD.
Hicks was born with moderate hearing loss that became worse. By the 4th grade, she lost her hearing entirely. Hicks, a lifelong athlete, had to learn to adjust when playing sports.
"Whenever I had my hearing aids and my hearing was getting worse, it was harder to hear my teammates and I would get frustrated," said Hicks. "I would just not hear what they're saying, there would be miscommunications all the time. I was frustrated all the time."
Hicks says she responded to the frustration by improving her lip-reading skills and making a habit of glancing at coaches and teammates after each play.
"It was a difficult thing to learn at first, but now it's second nature," said Hicks.
"Losing your hearing can be extremely tough and she could have made excuses for herself along the way or had a negative mindset about how she couldn't be successful," said McKinney High School Head Volleyball Coach Erinn Higginbotham. "She doesn't let that define her. She is going to be successful because of her mindset and what she can do."
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Hicks also committed to playing volleyball for Louisiana Tech when she graduates high school. Her mom, Jen Hicks, says hearing loss may have helped shape Sammie but her daughter has always been driven.
"She takes care of and takes responsibility for everything she does," said Jen Hicks. "She truly does give 100 percent to everything in her life."
Seven years ago, Sammie says cochlear implants helped improve her ability to communicate. She is now learning American Sign Language to better communicate with new teammates on the USA Deaf Volleyball team.
"It's cool to be part of that," said Hicks. "It's a good opportunity to show other people you don't have let anything hold you back."