Roy Exum: Bless Derrick Coleman

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When the Duracell people approached Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman about becoming part of a wonderful advertising campaign called “Trust Your Power,” there was just one reason he said he would do it. “OK, I want to join up … I just hope to inspire people, especially children, to trust the power within and achieve their dreams.”

Up until now the NFL star has been relatively private over the fact that he cannot hear the Seahawks’ raucous 12th Man crowd but this Sunday he will become the first legally-deaf player to ever play in the Super Bowl. His Seahawks will battle the Denver Broncos and, if you are searching for a reason to root for Seattle, you just found it. After playing for UCLA, he wasn’t drafted but because he trusted “the power within,” he became the first deaf player in the history of pro football.

“Every challenge I had, overcoming, it didn't come quick,” he told the Sporting News not long ago. “The biggest thing is just how persistent my mom and family were in not making me using my hearing aids as an excuse, telling me to work extra hard at everything I do as a person, no matter if I needed the hearing aids or not. Every kid faces some challenge growing up. I just had to prove to other people I was just like them, but I knew that right from the start. I was just as good as everybody else.”

Soon after the commercial appeared, he received a letter that meant almost more to him than a Super Bowl ring. “Dear Derrick Coleman (my inspiration),” began the note from Riley Kovalcik, age 9, of Roxbury, N.J.

“I know how you feel,” she wrote. “I also have hearing aids. Just try your best. I have fait (sic) in you Derrick. Good job on January 20th game. Go Seattle Seahawks! Here are some of the things we have in common: I where (sic) two hearing aids. I love sports. Other things are I’m a identical twin and my twin where’s (sic) one hearing aid too!”

As you might guess, it wasn’t long before the 23-year-old Coleman – who has been deaf since the age of 3 and was bullied as a child -- wrote back a hand-written letter:

“Dear Miss Kovalcik,

“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!!!

“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 have hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals and dreams. If you or your family is ever in Seattle, I hope we can all get together and play some sports or games!

“Take care, Derrick L. Coleman Jr. #40”

Riley’s father posted both letters on the Internet and obviously they have gone viral. “The only reason I put the tweet out was so that he can get to see that he's an inspiration for my kids,” he told the New York Daily News. “I don't think she's ever written to anyone like that, ever. She's a really confident little kid — this is a peek into what she's thinking on a daily basis. He's been so successful. He's somebody to look up to and he made her feel like hearing aids are cool.”

The Kovalciks have carefully taught their daughters, who lost their hearing shortly after birth, that they are “unique” and encourage them to try new things, just as Coleman urges young people to find a way to make their dreams happen.

“The biggest thing is, have no excuses in anything you do, and I'm not talking about just the hearing impaired, but everybody.” said the 230-pound bruiser who uses hearing aids and reads lips in order to play in the NFL. “If there's something you truly want to do, you'll find a way to do it. And it's not going to be easy; it's going to take a long time, and it's going to be hard.

“Believe in your dream, and if you don't get to your dream, make sure you've done everything you can to get there. Nobody's perfect, everybody has something to overcome, and everybody still has the opportunity to do what they want to do.”

Today little Riley Kovalcik believes she’ll root for Seattle in the Super Bowl; after all, No. 40 is her favorite player.

royexum@aol.com

Riley Kovalcik, right, who is hearing impaired, wrote a note to Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman, who is also hearing impaired. legally deaf. She’s pictured with her identical twin sister, Erin, who also uses hearing aids.
Riley Kovalcik, right, who is hearing impaired, wrote a note to Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman, who is also hearing impaired. legally deaf. She’s pictured with her identical twin sister, Erin, who also uses hearing aids.

Roy Exum: A Lady Remembers Rex

Kevin Roden sits on the City Council in Denton, Texas (think the Dallas-Fort Worth airport area in the northeastern part of the state) and he is gearing up to run for a third term this spring. He’s already got his website up and, while the election isn’t until April, he writes on his blog every now and then. Last month he let his wife take a turn at it, which brings us to yesterday’s ... (click for more)

Where Has All Our Road Money Gone? - And Response

I travel four roads almost daily:  Dodds Avenue, Dayton Boulevard, Third Street and Northpoint Boulevard.  Why these roads cannot be repaired I will never know. I know, part of Northpoint is privately owned, by not the most. Just about everywhere you go the streets are in terrible shape. We need to get this resolved.  Joan Smith Chattanooga  ... (click for more)

School Board Votes To Issue RFPs For Private School Bus Service; Allows Independent Drivers To Add 20 Routes

The Hamilton County School Board voted unanimously to issue a Request-for-Proposals (RFP) to private bus companies at a special-called session early  Saturday  afternoon.   The vote came at the end of a two-day strategy session where the school board has confronted a list of challenges but the busing question, spurred by the tragic bus wreck in November ... (click for more)

3 People Shot Early Saturday Morning On East 3rd Street

Three people were shot on East 3rd Street early Saturday morning. They were identified as Countess Clemons, 24, Kezia Jackson, 23, and Dutchess Lykes, 26.   The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 2:40 a.m. to a person(s) shot call at a local hospital. All three victims were transported to the hospital via a personally-owned vehicle.   All three ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)