Annesley Kolb, AKA Annie, is 16 years old and is currently one of the youngest players in the USDWNT training pool. She plays on the team as a left forward and has been attending camps since the summer of 2017.

I was born deaf into a hearing family, but that didn’t stop my love for the game. I grew up wearing hearing aids, which worked relatively well for me for about 12 years. Three years ago, I decided to get cochlear implants, and it changed my life greatly. It allowed me to hear sounds I had never heard before, and it was all very shocking to me to realize how much I was missing with my hearing aids versus my cochlear implants. For example, a few days after my implants were activated, I heard water running across the other side of the house. I called to my mom and said “hey there’s water running” but it wasn’t that, it was the coffee maker and I didnt know it sounded the way it did.

I was 14 when I learned about this amazing opportunity because my mom invited Maddie and Kate over to my house. My mom found out about the team through my middle school guidance counselor, Mr. Bloom. He had a daughter who played soccer at Rollins College with Maddie Taylor, and he connected my mom with her and Kate. They figured out a date and time to sit with me, and they told me about this team and how much they loved it. They told me about their experiences with the team and the international events. I am very fortunate that I was able to meet Maddie and Kate to learn more about the team.

Flash forward to my first camp in Seattle, Washington. Little did I know that it was going to be an experience that I would never forget. Prior to camp, I was super nervous because I had never really been around Deaf people like myself. It was also the first time I had really gone anywhere alone without my parents being right by my side to help with anything I needed. I arrived in Seattle, and I was immediately greeted by longtime veterans, Allie and Laura. Right at that moment, I knew that I would make bonds that will never break. I was fortunate to be able to go to this camp, and the whole time that I was there I learned so much from these amazing ladies. They inspired me in so many ways.

Meeting this team and being Deaf has showed me the finer things in life. It makes me appreciate what I have. I now have a team that I can be my true self around, which I could never do before on my other teams. This makes me so happy. One of the main reasons that I love this team is that I know that they will always have my back, whether it’s soccer related or not. I still talk to many of my USDWNT teammates everyday, and they make me laugh like crazy even though many live on the other side of the country.

I’m sure many of you have heard this, but being Deaf is NOT a disability, it is a superpower, and I’m glad to have this superpower!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

– Annie