Overcoming Obstacles


Jordynn Simpson returns a volley during tennis practice.

For some, the idea of playing sports with a physical disability is a feat that seems near impossible; for senior Jordynn Simpson the impossible is a reality. A three-sport athlete and college volleyball commit, Simpson was born completely deaf. “My deafness is not genetic, it’s because of [my birth mom] doing drugs and not doing prenatal care,” she said. The repercussions of a pregnancy riddled with drugs wasn’t visible to Simpson’s parents until two month after she was adopted. “My mom noticed there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t talking like a normal baby. They took me to Denver for more testing, and I was put in a [soundproof] booth to see if I could hear anything. I think they actually knew before the booth test because with toy animals, I could always see them before I could hear them,” she said. After the testing, Simpson’s predicted outcome seemed hopeless; the doctor’s believed she would never be able to participate in sports. Fast forward 18 years, and Simpson has emerged as one of the top tennis players on the North Platte High School tennis team. Simpson knows her talent as well. She said, “I think the reason I make a good tennis player is that I see a lot faster than I hear. I just have the sense of motion; I know where I need to be to return the ball back and where I need to place it.” However with only 60-80% hearing on a good day, success in tennis took time to develop. “I noticed as a freshman I couldn’t hear very well while playing singles because I didn’t know the game well. If a ref would yell ‘out,’

I wouldn’t always be able to hear it, so I had to rely on my opponent. Sometimes girls would yell that the ball was out and try and cheat me. As I grew closer with those girls, they stopped doing that to me.” Simpson’s former tennis partner Taylor Kramer (‘16) can affirm how hard Jordynn has worked. “It was always a little harder for us to communicate because sometimes Jordynn couldn’t hear me,” she said. Although there were setbacks, Kramer speaks highly of Jordynn’s attitude towards adversity. “Jordynn always had the game on her mind, and as a team, we did really well. She was always joking around about being deaf, so she was always in good spirit besides it being inconvenient for her,” she said. Given Simpson’s positive attitude, many people are unaware of the work she has put into improving her hearing. “People don’t realize when they make fun of me and my accent, how much work I put into speech therapy all those years,” she said. Simpson says she has gotten stronger and better at tennis throughout the years. “I felt like I had to work a lot harder to prove to those girls that even though I have a disability, nothing can stop me from playing the game I love,” Simpson said. Simpson placed 4th in dual’s tennis with senior Tea Guerra at the North Platte Invite last Friday.