Deaf high school football player excels on the field - KMSP-TV

Deaf high school football player excels on the field

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Clarke Central High School football player T.J. Ellison hasn't let life's challenges keep him from fulfilling his dreams.  Ellison was born deaf, and he hopes to show others they can do anything they put their minds to, regardless of setbacks.

Both on and off the field, Ellison is just like any other player.  He just communicates a little differently.  

"My defensive coaches always have hand signals, so that's how I get my signals on the field," said Ellison, who is a defensive lineman.

Ellison, a junior at Clarke Central, says his teammates are his ears on the field.

"If they hear the coach change a call, they let me know," he said.

At first, Ellison says it was sometimes hard to make things work because of the challenges of communicating.  But, he says, once he and his teammates got used to it, things changed.  

Ellison excels at football, wrestling and in the classroom.  No challenge has slowed him down.

"I've proved that my disability hasn't stopped me from doing what I love," Ellison told FOX 5.

Ellison's coach, Ahren Self, says he's a role model.  He says he's taught the entire team to never let any setbacks get in their way.

Ellison says he plays not only for himself, but also to show others just like him that they can play, too.

"My motto is no matter how hard something is, just remember one thing that helps you get through it," said Ellison.  "I want to be able to show we are capable no matter what."

Ellison says he hopes to play football in college, and eventually become a high school history teacher and football coach.

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