Sophomore Kelly Kyle might have been born with a hearing impairment so severe that she is legally considered deaf, but that hasn’t stopped the Butler volleyball player from chasing after one of the biggest dreams of all U.S. athletes: playing for a national team.
This summer, Kyle will become part of a 12-woman roster representing the U.S. at the Deaflympics in Bulgaria. She will spend July 26 through Aug. 4 in Sophia, Bulgaria’s capital, in an attempt to win a world title on the volleyball court.
Kyle said she’s honored to be part of a team representing the U.S. and is looking forward to this summer when she will meet and train with her new teammates before traveling across an ocean for the first time.
The 2011 North Montgomery High School graduate will join thousands of other legally deaf athletes at the Deaflympics.
“I think one of the hardest things will be not being able to use the hearing aids,” Kyle said. “And I don’t know any sign language. Volleyball is such a communication sport, so it’ll be a learning experience.”
She said she will no doubt be learning the language before taking off for Bulgaria in July, adding that it’s even more important in this case because almost everyone she’ll be dealing with at the games— including teammates and coaches—will be fully deaf.
Kyle will also be meeting her new teammates for the first time in late May at the U.S. Open in Louisville, Ky.
“It’s exciting,” Kyle said, “to represent the country in any way, shape or form, and to represent my hometown and Butler. It’s really exciting.
“And to go to a new place with a totally different language and being around so many deaf people, it’s going to be very interesting.”
Jodi Webster, Kyle’s high school coach at North Montgomery high school said determination, as well as Kyle’s humility and persistence, are some of her defining characteristics.
“It’s been such a great joy watching her grow up,” Webster said. “It’s really an amazing thing. Kelly never feels sorry for herself—she just strives for success. “We’re all really proud of her.”
Butler head coach Sharon Clark also expressed her happiness for the upcoming event and the contributions Kyle has made so far in her first two seasons at Butler.
“She’s very self-sufficient,” Clark said. “There are things we have to be conscious about. But she’s a very well-rounded player. To come in day in and day out and always have a smile on her face and know that she’s just such a joyful person, it makes you work harder.
“And it’s ironic because, despite what she’s gone through in life, that in and of itself is a great thing.”