DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas - Faith Wylie is one of the youngest players on the U.S. Deaf Women's National Soccer Team and she's the only one on the roster from the Lone Star State. The team itself has been undefeated in international play since 1999.
Faith is scoring big with her footwork on the field and her story is helping other deaf children achieve their goals.
“I had a lot of setbacks from coaches telling me, ‘You can't. You can't hear the whistle. You can't do this.’ And that, it doesn't matter. If you want to, you can,” said Faith.
“You can't let other people decide who you are. You just have to be you, hearing or not,” she added.
“That pushed her desire to be the best even more,” said Mark Wylie, Faith’s father.
The 16-year-old from Dripping Springs hopes to bring home her first Deaf World Cup medal this summer. Picking up her first soccer ball at just three years old, Faith made a name for herself on the US Women's Deaf National Team by the time she was 13.
“Wow, I'm a part of this history of deaf soccer now,” Faith said.
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“When you go to play with a national team, you're playing with the best of the best of the country,” said Jorge Cruz, Faith’s coach with Sting Soccer Austin, which she also plays for competitively.
“It's just, it's amazing to be at that age and level and be welcomed on the team and be with D1 college students when you go train and it's just, it's incredible,” Mark said.
Like any team sport, the players know communication is key. So they’ve found ways to work around talking or yelling.
“Half of us can't hear and we can't play with our technology, so it's a very high connection with a team you have to be playing with,” said Faith.
“At the Deaf National Team, the women they sign, they hand gesture, they know each other. So, if you put your hand out, they're going to put the ball to your hand,” Mark said.
Even when she's not playing with the national team, who she now calls family, Faith is practicing and competing with her school and Sting Soccer Austin. As long as she stays on the ball, the right forward doesn't let a disability define her.
“She's not shy about it. she knows that she has that, but she doesn't really care because she is like any other player on the field,” Cruz said.
“If you put in the time and become the best, hearing or not, you step onto the field, people are going to be like, ‘Wow, that's amazing,’” said Faith
Now, soccer legends Faith grew up watching in the FIFA World Cup are learning her name.
“It's really weird. These amazing soccer players are walking up to me like, ‘You play for Amy? Take a picture with me! I'll text this to her.’ And I'm like, ‘You're Mia Hamm! What? I'm supposed to be asking to take a picture with you!’ Faith said.
This year Faith will travel to South Korea to compete in the Deaf World Cup. She hopes someday a deaf player from the U.S. will take the field to compete for the FIFA Women's World Cup and plans to do whatever she can to make that happen.
“In a few years, I might not be on the team, but I might've been the one to get them to this team and, if I can do that, that's all that matters,” said Faith.
The US Deaf Women's National Team will also compete in the Deaflympics in Brazil in 2021.