CALEDONIA, Mich. -- Caledonia High School junior Sammie Gehrls has been deaf in one ear since birth, but she hasn't let that stop her from being a standout athlete in both basketball and softball.
“I may be limited in my ability to hear, but it has also heightened my awareness in other aspects of my life," Sammie said. "So I’ve been able to become aware of my surroundings, and I’ve really adjusted and this is my normal. So I really don’t know any different.”
“Sammie is a coach’s dream," 16-year coach Tom Kaechele boasted. "You get one of those maybe once in a coaching career. I’ve been blessed with a lot of great players, but she is just somebody special. Like she said, that’s her normal. She doesn’t know any different, and so it really doesn’t hold her back. She is one of the most positive players I’ve ever been around.”
She's pretty talented, too. Sammie holds the record for home runs at Caledonia with 26 so far in her career, including 15 in her freshman season.
“This has been a crazy adventure," Sammie smiled. "You think, oh, you’re going to have your average high school career. But I’ve been blessed with great coaches, great teammates and people who push you and strive for greatness. And I’m just so fortunate to be a part of this group and Caledonia High School.”
And this season is a little more special for Sammie and the Fighting Scots, as they've dedicated the year to their teammate, Macayla Kohn, who passed away in October in a car accident.
“She was a very special young lady, " Coach K said. "She brought life to wherever she was. She had a tremendous smile, a beautiful smile. She was the life of the team. She’d be dancing out there right now if she wasn’t getting the ball, she’s just that way.”
“It really hurts every single one of us out here to not have her playing in short stop right now," Sammie added. "As we all know, she would be sprinting out into short stop, and she’s a big jokester, and we miss her dearly. And we’re just honored to be out here playing for her and just coming together as a community and really what we’re all about as a team and honor for her.”