TJC's hearing aid

By Ryan Peterson - bio | email

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - The roar of the crowd and the sound of the band.  It's all part of a college football Saturday.  The experience is silent for T.J.C. Freshman Rodney Watts.  Watts has been deaf since birth.

"I just watch the football," Watts signs.  "When it goes, I run."

Krista Winkle also helps out.  Winkle is a student interpreter for the Apaches football team.

"On the field, everywhere," said Winkle.

Everywhere, but the huddle.   Whatever coach Danny Palmer says, Winkle better get it right.  Rodney Watts is depending on it.

"If I have a hearing aid on I can hear better," said Watts.  "If it's off and I can't hear, it's harder trying to pay attention watching the ball."

He relies on sign language from Winkle.

"It's a lot of pressure," said Winkle.  "But he's (Watts) a very easy person to work with and helps me when if I'm not communicating something he let's me know I don't understand. You're his voice. You're his ears. So when those jokes when their stretching, he wants to know what they're saying. So I have to get involved with the jokes."

Winkle says the teams makes her feel like one of the guys.

"You end up being close to almost the whole team," said Winkle.  "You become part of the team. You're not just like a piece of furniture there throwing your hands around. You actually have to get to know the other players. You voice for him."

Out of all the signs made on the sideline, Rodney's smile says everything.

"It does," laughed Winkle.  "He's just a big teddy bear."