Roy Exum: You Didn’t Hear This

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

This past weekend, as the Patriots stayed perfect and the Giants iced the Packers, the chances are good you didn’t hear that Kevin Hall won the Hooters golf tournament down in Ocoee, Fla. The delicious irony is that Kevin didn’t hear it either – he’s stone deaf.

The delightful 25-year-old shot a 6-under 66 on the last day to win by four strokes and earned a check for $11,909. That’s peanuts in the world of pro golf but perhaps it is also an omen because if ever there was a battler, a kid who defies the odds on a daily basis, it is our newest champion on the Hooters Tour.

His mantra is simple. It is the Bible verse from the second chapter of Timothy that reads, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.”

If that doesn’t crank your engine, try this. Kevin is an African-American and the fact he became the first black kid to ever play golf at Ohio State might tell you something. The fact he was voted as the team’s co-captain in each of his last two years might tell you more and then there’s the tale of how he led his teammates to the Big Ten championship in his senior year. That’s where he took individual honors by 11 strokes!

The whole thing got going when he was two years old and contacted a disease called H-Flu Meningitis. It effectively took away his ability to hear but his parents were determined to raise him as “a normal child” and placed him in the St. Rita School for the Deaf less than two years later.

There he met a marvelous man who taught him how to bowl and he had such a touch that by the time he was eight he was the No. 2 bantam bowler in the country. Trouble was, right about then the same coach asked his parents if he could teach Kevin to play golf – a more demanding game of touch and feel -- and once the young protege got a golf club in his hands, he recognized his passion.

Bolstered by his athletic ability and his steadfast determination, the decision was made to “mainstream” Kevin, to put him in a regular school, and not only did he make the transition, he thrived in it. At Winton Woods High School, he was the top prep golfer in the state and he was also – get this – the school’s Valedictorian.

The Ohio State venture was frightful at first, going from a high school of 200 kids to a campus of over 30,000, but he earned a spot in the line-up as a freshman and, by the time he earned a degree with a 3.2 gpa, he knew better than anyone he had a chance to accomplish anything he set out to do.

On his web page, he himself writes, “Throughout the course of my life, I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet many people of which have made a huge impact in my life. I have learned a lot of things from them, a lot of them coming from my parents. “

“I've learned that life is too short. I need to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. God gave me a 2nd chance at life and I intend to make the best of it! It takes courage to do what I do and to keep going even in face of adversity. People ask me all the time how I can continue to do what I do when the going gets tough.

“I tell them that it's one day at a time. You have to take it one step at a time. If you work hard without reservations and you put all you have into the time you have in a day and do it over and over, good things will happen to you eventually.

“My goal is to play on the PGA Tour. I know I have a lot of work to do and I am prepared to do so to achieve my goals. My motto is: work, work, work, dig, dig, dig and to never take my eyes off the goal. I was always taught that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

“I was always taught that with God anything is possible if you are willing to work for it. The sky is the limit. Always reach for it and never give up,” his diary reads.

So I thought you ought to hear about Kevin Hall, the golfer who can’t hear, because you’re going to hear more about him. Are you ever.

royexum@aol.com


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