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January 25, 2005

Haverford soccer star leads US in Deaflympics

From: Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA - Jan 25, 2005

By Ira Josephs Inquirer
Suburban Staff

Lindsey Dolich fielded one e-mail after another as soon as the Haverford College community heard the news.

The U.S. women's deaf national soccer team had won the Deaflympics gold medal on Jan. 16 in Melbourne, Australia. Dolich, 21 and a resident of Memphis, started six of seven games for the United States, tallying three assists and heading in a goal.

A junior forward at Haverford, Dolich played mostly defense, at right outside halfback, in the Deaflympics. This was the first year women's soccer was included as a Deaflympic sport, and the United States went undefeated in gaining the gold. The Americans beat Russia, 3-0, in the championship game.

"The reception has been incredibly positive, supportive," Dolich wrote in an e-mail interview. "A number of my teammates, my coach, the athletic community, and friends congratulated me as soon as they heard about the gold medal... . A lot of people told me they closely followed my team's progress online, and it felt great to know that I had people cheering for me back home."

With Dolich in Australia were her twin sister and Haverford teammate, Caryn, and parents Andy and Ellen.

Andy Dolich, the president of business operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, began his career in sports administration with the 76ers. He served as the administrative assistant to the general manager from 1971 to '74. In the second of those three seasons, 1972-73, the Sixers went 9-73, a record that remains the worst in NBA history.

"My kids understand how wacky the world of sports is," said Andy Dolich, who was vice president of business operations for the Oakland Athletics when the A's won the World Series in 1989. "The greatest joy I've had is watching them play and especially watching Lindsey walk into the stadium in Melbourne with the U.S. team. She is the only one in the family with a gold medal."

Lindsey Dolich lost most of her hearing in both ears by age 4. She was diagnosed with large vestibular aqueduct syndrome, a condition she was likely born with as a result of the multiple birth.

"The first three years of hearing and language were absolutely critical in shaping my speech, language and hearing skills," wrote Dolich, an English major with an art history minor.

A cochlear implant allows Dolich to hear to some degree and she can carry on a conversation. The cochlear implant is a complex electronic device that sends sounds to the brain.

Dolich was asked if she favors the term deaf or hearing impaired.

"With my cochlear implant on, I think of myself as hearing impaired because I identify more with the 'hearing' world," Dolich wrote. "But it doesn't bother me to be categorized as deaf because without my implant I can't hear anything."

During Haverford games, Dolich wears the implant. At the Deaflympics, however, such devices were not allowed.

"Soccer is a sport that relies on a lot of communication, although for good teams it becomes less a matter of oral communication than learning how to anticipate your teammates' moves and play as a unit," she wrote. "It was absolutely amazing to win the gold medal."

The last college season was also a big success. With both Dolich sisters playing key roles, Haverford went 15-2-2 and advanced to the Centennial Conference semifinals.

"Her hearing issues have made her a strong player," Haverford coach Wendy Smith said. "She picks her head up and is always looking around. She's more aware of what is going on around her... . She reads lips very, very well. Honestly, it's nothing I even think about. It's such a minor issue, I often just forget."

This spring, both sisters will be studying abroad. Lindsey plans to travel back to Australia, and Caryn is already in Rome. It's the first time the twins will be separated for an extended time.

"They've always made us proud," Ellen Dolich said. "[Lindsey] always takes on the most challenges possible. Caryn has been unbelievably supportive. I can identify a very special bond with identical twins."

Said Lindsey Dolich: "[Caryn] has been my most ardent supporter and my best friend from the beginning, and without her I literally would not be where I am today." Contact suburban staff writer Ira Josephs at 610-313-8002 or

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