The Seattle Seahawks have made an impact this year as the NFC Champions and number-one defensive team in the league. However, the most rewarding accomplishment could be the inspiration that deaf fullback Derrick Coleman has had on many individuals through his success story.
Coleman was pleased to share on his Twitter account his lettered response that he penned to 9-year-olds Riley and Erin Kovalcik, who are also of hearing impaired. The twin sisters first wrote a letter to the fullback which was uploaded by their father. In the letter to Coleman, Riley wrote: "I know how you feel. I also have hearing aids. Just try your best. I have faif [sic] in you Derrick."
In response, Coleman also issued a letter of encouragement to the girls. The picture of the letter, which is handwritten and signed by Coleman thanks young Riley, who wrote the letter, for her support and encourages her to never give up. "Thanks for the letter! Really was great hearing from a friend who I have so much in common with. I appreciate you rooting for the Seahawks and me and hope you continue to do so when we play in the Super Bowl!!!"
Excerpts from the letter included Coleman telling Riley that he won't feel defeated or limited due to his disability: "I want you to know that I always try my best in everything I do and have faith in you and your twin sister too. Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals and dreams! If you or your family ever in Seattle, I hope we can all get together and play some sports or games!"
Riley and her sister Erin have considered Coleman as their "inspiration" and a model athlete to look up to. "I like that he actually can understand about being bullied and he actually knows more you know, stuff like if you have problems, he's a guy you can come to," said Riley in an interview with Good Morning America.
The twins have faced troubles from being hearing impaired like bullying, but especially when it came to playing sports. "I almost wasn't allowed [to play sports] because they were afraid I was going to hit my head and they were afraid that I would lose my hearing," said Riley.
Because of these lingering problems, the twin's father Jake Kovalcik was thankful to Coleman and the inspiration he brought for his daughters. "There's not a whole lot of really high-profile people or athletes out there that are deaf that kids like Riley and Erin can look up to," said Kovalcik. "[He shows] that if you work hard, adversity really doesn't matter."
Deaf since age 3, Coleman became the first deaf offensive player to ever play in the NFL and is now the first to head to the Super Bowl to win the Vince Lombardi trophy. The Seattle Seahawks are set to play the Denver Broncos on Sunday, February 2 and both Riley and Erin plan to attend to see their hero play in the biggest game of his career.