Hear and Now: Rifle DL still solid contributor despite hearing loss
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
RIFLE — Jose Prado has a hearing problem, and he hides it really well.
Repeat: Jose Prado, a senior defensive lineman on Rifle High School’s football team, has a hearing problem. Yet, if you ask his teammates and the Bears’ coaching staff, they’ll admit that they never knew it until hey actually heard about it.
“It wasn’t until the very end of his sophomore year that I knew he had hearing problems,” Rifle offensive and defensive line coach John Scraebeck said. “He didn’t want people to know, especially since he’s young. But he makes sure that he has the same opportunities that everyone else does, which says a lot about him.”
Prado’s hearing impairment centers around an inability to hear certain syllables, which makes understanding people’s speech difficult at times. So he compensates for that, making sure he hears the play call on the field and asking multiple questions on the sideline and in the classroom.
And just in case you haven’t heard, fifth-ranked Rifle (7-1 overall, 4-1 Class 3A Western Slope League) is playing against longtime rival Glenwood Springs (5-3, 4-1) on Friday at Stubler Memorial Field in a game that will have league championship implications. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Prado isn’t certain about where his hearing loss came from, and it surprised him when it was discovered. During a school hearing test in eighth grade — a test which monitors a child’s hearing through high- and low-pitched tones while they’re wearing a set of headphones — Prado didn’t hear anything. Test results came back a few weeks later and confirmed the hearing loss, which Prado said became even more evident when he was on the football field in middle school.
“I would see coaches yelling at me on the sidelines, and I wouldn’t be able to hear them,” Prado said. “Even if people were coming up behind me, I still wouldn’t be able to hear them. Any sport I did, it was a problem.”
That’s when Prado made adjustments, though there were things in high school football that helped him tremendously. The hand signals Rifle uses for play calling helped, along with the repetition of the play call in an offensive huddle. Though Prado primarily plays only defense now, the 5-foot-9, 220-pound senior would either have a teammate repeat the play call, or the quarterback would lean into Prado’ helmet ear hole and tell him the play call.
And during a play, he doesn’t hear anything. That, however, is by choice.
“Ever since I started playing varsity, I don’t hear a thing because I block everything out,” Prado said. “I can’t hear a crowd cheering or anything until I actually want to pay attention to it. I’m just focused on playing the game.”
Prado is focused enough that he’s tallied 17 tackles, a quarterback sack and a pair of QB hurries this season. But the football field isn’t the only place he’s focused.
Scraebeck, a history teacher at the school, said Prado makes sure to always sit in the front of the classroom and keep eye contact during class. That adjustment has made a big difference for the senior, who has maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
And on Friday, Prado and the Bears hope they can maintain their spot atop the Class 3A Western Slope League standings. The Bears, Demons and Palisade are each tied atop the league standings with a 4-1 record.
“It’s going to be another dogfight for us, that’s for sure,” Prado said.
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