CCHAT Spotlight: The Crable Family
If you have attended CCHAT over the past decade, chances are you shared a classroom with a Crable. Parents Shawn and Teresa sent daughters Faith, Hope and Kelly through the program, and all have since graduated and enjoyed mainstream success in their local schools.
While the three girls participate in varying activities outside of school, they have all found a passion on the softball diamond. Following in their older sister Grace’s footsteps, Faith, Hope and Kelly have shown that their hearing loss will never stop them from achieving success, and the skills they’ve learned on the field are ones that carry them in all aspects of life.
An Introduction to Softball
It is safe to say the Crables are a softball family. Shawn has coached the sport for many years, and Teresa is the classic representative of a softball mom. Oldest daughter Grace, who has typical hearing, first took the field, and the younger girls spent their childhoods at the ballpark, watching and learning.
Still, when it came time to consider enrolling her daughters with hearing loss in the sport, Teresa expressed some concern. Would they be able to hear well enough? Would they understand what's going on? Would their devices be safe and secure?
“We were definitely hesitant to have them play at first,” Teresa remembers. “We weren't sure how the communication would go between the girls and coaches.”
Luckily for the Crables, Shawn’s position as coach helped ease the transition. Each girl played for “Coach Dad” in their first years, and this allowed Shawn and Teresa to see how each girl would adjust to the environment.
Finding Acceptance from Coaches, Families and Teammates
The Crables’ concerns quickly faded. Even after the girls moved out of Shawn’s direct supervision, the reactions were wholly positive from those associated with the team.
“The girls have always been accepted by coaches and teammates,” Teresa says. “We've never had any issues. If anything, people ask questions and want to be educated on their hearing loss.”
To facilitate the initial integration into the team, Shawn and Teresa have always been very open about how coaches can help Faith, Hope and Kelly navigate softball with their hearing loss.
“We let the coaches know to always speak facing the girls, make eye contact, have mouth visible as much as possible, and always say their name before giving individual instruction,” Teresa says. “Let them know that windy days are the hardest to hear. We try to have headbands in their bags for windy days, as those can cover up the hearing device microphones to help with the wind noise.”
Additionally, the girls have made their own adjustments to help lessen the impact of their hearing loss. Faith uses “omnidirectional” mode on her hearing aids in order to better hear her coaches. Kelly keeps her cochlear implant magnets under her hair to keep them from moving or falling off when she uses a batting helmet.
With these accommodations in place, the girls have been able to play softball just as their hearing peers do. The result has been success, both with softball results and the girls’ health and well-being.
Translating Softball Lessons into Everyday Life
While Faith, Hope and Kelly have seen tremendous growth in their softball abilities, perhaps the bigger leaps have been made as a result of their experiences on the diamond.
“The benefits we've seen as a result of playing softball are they learn to work as a team, take on leadership roles, and learn how to overcome difficult and challenging situations,” says Teresa.
Thanks to their time in the sport, Teresa has watched her daughters gain confidence and life skills. These have been specifically beneficial to Faith, Hope and Kelly in handling their hearing loss in a school setting.
“They have built the confidence they need to self-advocate for themselves when they can't hear well, which also carries into the classroom,” Teresa says. “They have learned how to make new friends and get along with others, which I've seen, as they reach the upper elementary and middle school ages, how much that has helped them.”
The Game Never Stops
For the Crables, seemingly every weekend – and many weeknights – are filled with softball. Grace, a sophomore, now plays for her high school team. Faith, 13, and Hope, 11, are on local travel teams that tour the greater Sacramento and Reno areas. Kelly, 8, recently started her second year of recreational ball.
Shawn and Teresa wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Each one of our daughters has enjoyed playing softball tremendously,” Teresa says. “They know their hearing loss isn't stopping them. Of course, it can be challenging at times, but they learn to work through it.”
For parents of children with hearing loss who may be on the fence about joining athletics, take it from the Crables and give it a try.
“Talk to coaches as you would your child's teacher, making sure they know the best way to communicate with your child,” Teresa advises. “We think being involved in a team sport helps build confidence, accountability, and shows our children that their disability will not stop them from doing things that other kids their age do.”
To learn about more amazing CCHAT alumni students, visit our Alumni Highlights page.