Faith Wylie is 14 years old and is currently one the youngest players in the USDWNT training pool. She plays on the team as a right forward and has been attending camps since the summer of 2017.
I was three years old was when my mom, who had started losing her hearing six years earlier, first started questioning if I could hear or not. At age three and a half, I went to the doctor to get a hearing screening test. I faked the test.
You might ask, “How can a three year old fake something like that?” Well, when I was little, one of my coping mechanisms was to act silly. So, when the doctor did the test and I acted silly, they just concluded that I had lost interest, not that I was hard of hearing.
My mom just knew her daughter wasn’t hearing properly, even though the doctors called her crazy. She continued to press for tests, and finally when I was four years old I was diagnosed as hard of hearing. I was fitted for my first pair of hearing aids that year.
One day when I was four, my mom told my sister and I that we were going to the American Girl Doll store, and that afterwards we’d be going to the audiologist. Of course, my little four year old self was so excited to get a doll. What I didn’t know is that I was not the only one being fitted for hearing aids that day. My little sister and my American Girl Doll were getting their own hearing aids as well.
From that day forward, my family wanted me to have the ability to be a part of both the deaf community and the hearing world. So, a year after getting my hearing aids, my family and I attended a family weekend retreat at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD). The retreat was our first step into the deaf community.
The families there varied – there were full deaf families who all signed and there were families like mine who were just trying to figure out how to navigate the hearing and deaf worlds. Due to her own hearing loss, my mom had learned sign before she knew that her daughters also had hearing loss. We attended the TSD family weekend retreats every year after that, and those retreats encouraged my dad to start signing and later go through an interpreter program (though he never got fully certified).
I never thought of my hearing loss as a set back. I just thought of it as a minor difference. That is, until one day, when my U10 coach told me that I would never get anywhere if I couldn’t hear.
My U10 coach’s comment that I wouldn’t make it anywhere just made me more determined. Just because I couldn’t hear didn’t mean that that I was incapable. It just meant I had to work harder to get where I wanted to be. Now, I’m proud of the fact that I play for a high level (hearing) club team.
Four years later, my mom told me that the US Deaf Women’s National Team would be playing in the Deaf World Cup in Italy; so, we bought our shirts to support and tuned in to every game. The moment they won, I knew that someday I wanted to be up on that podium beside that team. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and that I would have to work hard to get there. Little did I know, a year later I boarded a plane to attend my first training with the team in Seattle, Washington.
When I got there I was very nervous knowing I was going to be the youngest player there, and I was going to be playing with World Cup champions. But the team was very welcoming, and by the end of the week I already felt like a part of an amazing family. All of the older girls on the team took me under their wings and helped me to know what I was doing.
It was truly an amazing experience to be able to train with the team, and when I found out I would have the opportunity to continue to train with the team, I was more than happy. I have now been to three training camps with the team, and the memories I have from every camp are truly amazing.
Not only are all the veteran players amazing, but the newer, younger girls have had a great impact on me as well. The youngest girls on the team (14-16) are called the babies, and I talk to most of them on daily basis, or at least a weekly basis. Not only are these girls amazing soccer players, but they are also my age and they understand everything I go through because they are going through the same types of things. The team is full of many role models for me and strong women that I will forever look up to.