The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

photo by Morgan Harmon

Overcoming the odds

Sophomore plays football despite his physical disability

Being born hard of hearing brings on many challenges. It’s difficult to understand and communicate with people. Sophomore Robert Lizama faces these challenges every day.

But that wouldn’t stop him from doing what he loves.

Growing up hard-of-hearing, Lizama was really shy and quiet but engulfed in football. His grandfather went to Emmerich Manual High and played for the football team there. Lizama watched football on TV, played the sport and even met former Colts player T.Y. Hilton. And when he reached high school, he decided to continue playing football.

High school football was different. Hearing is vital in the sport, whether it is the QB yelling out a play in code, or the coach yelling “set, hut” in practice. 

Because of his hearing, he had to listen closely to the coaches. But football coach Alex Bettag keeps practices the same. The same standards that are expected of the other players were also expected from Lizama. Both Bettag and Lizama didn’t allow the absence of hearing to be an excuse for not working hard.

“He doesn’t want to be treated any differently,” Bettag said.

During practices, the only accommodation Lizama would need to do is listen closely and occasionally ask for clarification.

“He’s, from day one, been a hard worker, does everything he’s asked to do, never has an excuse for anything, gives you 100% effort every day.” Bettag said, “He’s a great kid to be around, and he’s fun to coach.”

The sport allowed Lizama to fit right in. However, football is more than just a sport for Lizama. It gets him out of his comfort zone and allows him to motivate himself to do better.

For the 2023-2024 football season, he plans on winning more games and making fewer mistakes than he did in previous years. Even though he holds high standards for himself, he still expects to make errors.

“I will always try to take the steps and coaching I’ve had to try to prevent as many mistakes as possible,” Lizama said.

But it doesn’t always go according to plan. With the loss against Roncalli on Aug. 18, and against Perry on Aug. 25, the season is off to a challenging start.

Even with these challenges, Lizama continues to work hard during practices and in games.

“He always brings up his teammates when we’re at our lowest,” sophomore Riley Matlock said. “And he’s always doing the right thing when no one’s looking around.”

Ever since Lizama was in 7th grade, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreter Michael Morris has been Lizama’s interpreter. Throughout the years Morris has seen how Lizama has changed.

“He’s enjoying it, that’s what high school’s about,” Morris said. “I completely support it.”

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, around two to three of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with some kind of hearing loss.

Lizama is just one of many who are struggling with hearing loss. But because of the football team, he found where he belonged.

“By playing football, you don’t just only gain a football team of teammates and coaches, you also get an entire family that you can rely on,” Lizama said. “And if you ever need anything, they are there for you.”

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About the Contributor
Thang Khai
Thang Khai, Features Reporter
Hello everybody. My name is Thang Khai, and I’m going to be a Feature writer for The Journal this year. I am a sophomore here at SHS, and I’m on the Cross country team and the Track and field team. Most of the time, I hate running. But there are special occasions where it’s decently fun. I like to get involved, so you might see me volunteering at concessions or playing music for the Perry Township Art Show. I’ve played the violin for around four years now, and I believe the best kind of music is classical music. And I think people will hate me for this, but I’m a Boston Celtics fan. I don’t think it’s a big deal, but being in Indiana and telling people that I’m a Celtics fan might not be the best idea. My family is pretty huge. I have five siblings (including myself) and my parents. All of that aside, I’m pretty excited to be in The Journal and I can’t wait to start writing!

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