Hicks will head to Brazil with National Deaf Volleyball Team


Kayla Montoya, Reporter

The overwhelming emotion flooded her as she heard the sound of her breath for the first time in 10 years. Senior Samantha Hicks has been deaf her whole life until she underwent surgery for cochlear implants. Being deaf affected Samantha, especially when it came to her dream of playing volleyball at such a young age.

“My biggest challenge was definitely when I started to lose my hearing,” Samantha said. “It was just tough because I was trying to understand everybody in a way that I couldn’t really understand or do.”

At age 10, Samantha had to make the decision of getting cochlear implants or going to a deaf school and having to learn ASL with her family.

“The first thing Samantha heard when the doctors turned on her cochlear implants was the sound of her breath,” Mrs. Hicks said. “After she heard herself breathe harder and harder she started to hear all those little noises that you usually don’t pay attention to. It was just a really emotional time for both Samantha and us.”

Mrs. Hicks suggested her to start playing volleyball after years of playing other sports.  

“I started playing volleyball in 3rd grade because I had wanted to get into other sports than basketball,” Samantha said, “Then I started playing club in 6th grade and I’ve just kinda fallen in love with it since.”

While playing for the Lionettes, she also played two years of club for Lonestar, three years for Arsenal, Madfrog, and now Instinct.

“Gosh, that girl just lives volleyball.” Mrs. Hicks said. “ I think Samantha has only been four days this year without playing, she’s just that kind of kid that needs to be constantly working out and being competitive on the court.”

As a freshman, Samantha and her team got 3rd at Nationals, sophomore year she received an Honorable Mention, and as a Junior, got Second-Team All-District and an All-Out All The Time Award along with an Honorable Mention from the district.

“Samantha has grown into a much more confident and verbal, goofy, young lady with an excellent and impressive work ethic,” Coach Erica Ranel said. “I think through all of those qualities, she’s able to inspire and lead by example and we couldn’t ask her to work any harder than she does, and people simply follow that.”

Samantha’s skill soon caught the eyes of coaches and universities. 

“I got an email from Louisiana Tech University asking me if I wanted to come down and visit, and of course I went,” Samantha said. “While I was there I just loved the school and being on campus is where I could see myself.”

When visiting the campus, Samantha went to a prospect camp for volleyball and met the new coaching staff and team members. 

“When Coach McRae called Samantha and offered her the spot, she just fell to the ground crying from joy,” Mrs. Hicks said. “The recruiting process is long and talking to all the coaches was really stressful for her, but it was her number one choice so she’s just incredibly happy about it.”

Samantha is also involved in the USA National Deaf team, an Olympic team that plays every four years and travels around the world.

“I was at a club tournament and went to an unsigned workout for juniors and there happened to be a lady who was a coach for one of the club teams and had been watching me play all weekend,” Samantha said. “She offered me a spot on the team and of course I said yes. It’s going to be a cool experience because I’m not allowed to wear my cochlear implants because part of being on the deaf team is adjusting to no sound.”

Over this Thanksgiving break, Samantha is traveling to Brazil to play for the deaf team. 

“There’s been a lot she has stuck through like she has priorities that family is always first, then school, sports, and friends,” Mrs. Hicks said. “I just don’t think there’s a ton of teenagers that have the commitment to stay on top of everything, and she has that.”

Coach Ranel also sees the uniqueness of Samantha’s talent and ability.

“Samantha is an incredible and special kid and her heart just couldn’t be any bigger, Coach Erica Ranel said. “I just hope joy, whatever she does, she’s going to be great and I have no doubt about that.”

Samantha said she has hopes for herself individually and with the family, she’s built over the past four years.

“I hope our team can leave some sort of legacy on the school and just make it farther into the playoffs than we did last year,” Samantha said. “Also, just having fun on the court while still fighting for every point.”