'They don't treat me any different': Hearing impaired senior considered exactly what coach looks for in players

BAYTOWN, Texas (KTRK) -- As Goose Creek CISD students head back to school, it won't be long before Friday night football is in full swing.

For one Robert E. Lee High School player, the cheering from the crowd, the music from the band, and the shouting from teammates isn't a distraction - that's because he can't hear it.

Billy Haynes is a senior this year and he's getting the job done on the football field despite his hearing impairment.

"Just because we can't hear, doesn't mean we can't do anything if we set our minds to it," said Haynes.

Haynes has been hard of hearing since he was born. But growing up, he watched football and had no doubt that one day, he'd play the game.

"You can do anything you want to do," said Haynes.

This is the senior's third year on the varsity football team at Lee High, but his interpreter has known him for much longer.

"I've worked with Billy since he's been in elementary school," said Leticia Arredondo, a sign language interpreter for the Tri-County East Regional Day School Program for the Deaf. She also works for Goose Creek CISD.

Arredondo attends every one of Haynes' practices and games. Haynes can't wear his hearing aids during drills or games, so he relies on Arredondo when he needs a little more information.

"It was an adjustment for me," said Lee High School's head football coach, Tim Finn. "I'm used to pacing as I talk, and I was bumping into the interpreter at the beginning."

Finn says he looks for maintenance-free athletes, which he describes as players that are dependable and respectful. Haynes is one of them.

"If you really want to do something, you can make it work and he's been very dedicated," said Finn.

Haynes says he feels like he's surrounded by people who want him to succeed, and says that's how he can handle whatever is thrown his way.

"They don't treat me any different," said Haynes. "They treat me like I'm one of their brothers, their family members, just (a) teammate."

Haynes says he hopes to play football in college and become a coach one day.

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