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May 12, 2003

Deaf Buckeye golfer succeeds with a winning attitude

From: Cleveland Plain Dealer, OH - May 12, 2003

Bruce Hooley
Plain Dealer Reporter

Columbus- Percy Hall has never forgotten the Sunday morning when his son,
Kevin, who was 12, went to his parents and asked, "You don't want me to be
deaf, do you?"

Percy Hall reports: "I told him, 'No, we don't, but that's the way it is and
we have to deal with that.' He looked up at me and said, 'Well, Dad, life is
tough, isn't it?'

"That's always been his attitude. The fact that he's deaf has never gotten
him down."

Now that Kevin Hall is one of the best golfers Ohio State will take to the
NCAA Central Regional this week, his golf coach, Jim Brown, reports that his
attitude hasn't changed.

"Kevin always has a smile on his face and a real upbeat attitude," Brown
said. "He's a treat."

Hall has another reason for his cheerful outlook after placing ninth in the
medalist standings at the Big Ten Championships - he helped OSU to a
third-place finish. The team is within range of its first trip to the NCAA
Championships in five years.

The Buckeyes will compete Thursday through Saturday against 20 other
schools, needing to place among the top 10 to advance.

Brown's teams have failed to reach the regionals once in 30 seasons, but he
thought this might be the second such year given the return of only junior
Zach Doran from OSU's 2002 lineup.

Hall, though, successfully has incorporated a series of swing changes he
made as a sophomore to give the Buckeyes a solid No. 2 player.

"None of us really think anything about Kevin being deaf," Doran said. "We
just think of him as one of the guys. If he goes out and shoots a 69, he
knows that's going to help us. And if he shoots a 78, it counts like any
other 78. It isn't like we get to post 78-D on the scoreboard. He knows that
and he's fine with it. It's not like he's walking around thinking the world
owes him something."

Hall contracted meningitis just before his third birthday and was in danger
of dying during a prolonged hospital stay. When he survived, doctors were
fearful the disease might have caused brain damage. Instead, the 103-degree
fever inflicted complete hearing loss.

"We're a Christian family," Percy Hall said. "We believe that while we're
not always responsible for what happens to us, we are responsible for how we
respond to it. That's what we've taught Kevin. He doesn't look at life as if
he's handicapped. He has the confidence that he can do anything."

Hall has been honored by OSU's scholar-athlete program each of his three
years, making exceptional grades by communicating with instructors via a
university-provided interpreter.

He reads the lips of his instructors and obtains notes from each lecture via
a fellow student of his choosing and the professor's approval.

His teammates tease him about that being an ingenious way to meet
prospective girlfriends. "That's true," Hall said through his interpreter.
"I've done that before. I've taken advantage of that."

His first two years at OSU, Hall carried a small keyboard with him to have
others type their statements to him and on which he typed responses. That
keyboard gets little use now that Hall has dedicated himself to speaking
more and his teammates have learned some sign language at his instruction.

"He's the funniest guy on the team," Brown said. "His teammates understand
him. He communicates with them. He's taught us some [sign] words. He's
taught us some good ones and some bad ones."

The bad ones got a bit more air time last year when Hall's average score
increased almost an entire stroke from the 73.9 he shot as a freshman to
place second on the team.

He dropped off the varsity by season's end, but Hall was determined to make
his swing less upright and worked tirelessly in the summer to assimilate the

"I stuck with it because I'm not a quitter," Hall said through his
interpreter. "I'm in control of myself and my destiny and my own success. I
set high expectations for myself this year. I knew a lot of people were
counting on me. I didn't want to let them down."

© 2003 The Plain Dealer