‘Follow your dreams’: Deaf lacrosse goalie has message for young girls

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WATCH: Teanna Sieben is hoping to land a post-secondary scholarship to play lacrosse south of the border. But as a deaf athlete, she also hopes to show young girls with disabilities that anything is possible – Apr 24, 2018

As a goaltender, Teanna Sieben knows a little pain just comes with the position.

In fact, she embraces it.

“When I get bruises, it just means I saved it,” Sieben said. “It brings excitement and I just love seeing the look on their face, of disappointment because I saved the shot.”

You see, Sieben has never been one to shy away from a challenge. She’s faced them since day one.

Sieben was born with influenza pneumonia. The medication she received to treat the illness left her with profound hearing loss.

“I got my first hearing aid when I was two, but then my hearing got worse,” she said. “So I got my first cochlear implant when I was five.”

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A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear.

“It picks up the sounds, goes through a computer magnet, and it sends it to my brain and it just pulls it down together and that’s how I hear you guys,” Sieben said.

By age 10, she was almost completely deaf and was approved to have a second cochlear implant surgery.

“Huge difference,” she said. “It was the first time I heard birds chirping, whispering, all the low sounds.”

But sport has also had a profound impact on her life. Growing up in Estevan, Sask., she never let her disability stop her from playing every sport possible.

“It was important because it helped me make friends, communicate with each other better,” Sieben said. “I don’t need to hear right, I can just look at them like ‘oh, that’s what you’re saying.'”

Posing for a photo in Estevan, Sask, her hometown. Teanna Sieben

At age 13, she found lacrosse and it stuck.

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For the last few years, Sieben has travelled to work with ELEV8 Lacrosse.

At first, it was an adjustment for both her and her coaches.

“You really have to use your hands a little bit, communicate a different style, but she picks it up very quickly,” ELEV8 Lacrosse director of operations and player development, Bob Snider said. “It’s almost like she can read our minds a little bit, so she kind of figures it out very quickly.

“We love working with her, she’s incredibly positive, always has a smile on her face, always upbeat, works her tail off.”

“It totally changed up my coaching style, but she definitely pays more attention,” ELEV8 Lacrosse coach Shawn Teixeira said. “She stares at you and looks you in the eye, she’s watching your mouth, and she takes direction really good because of that.”

Now 18 years old, Sieben’s goal is to land a post-secondary scholarship south of the border.

“No one in my family has gone to college with sport, so that would be a huge deal for me and my family,” Sieben said.

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“She’s a tender, she’s a number one contender,” Teixeira said. “When we’re out at a tournament, we had coaches filling the sidelines waiting to see her play, coming up to use being like what’s she like, what’s she like can I get her attention, can I get her.”

The pride carries from her coaching staff to her family.

“We’re really proud of her,” her uncle Travis Perry said. “She’s really taken a hold of this passion of hers, and it’s really inspiring for all of us.”

“Be nice to have a billboard outside of our town (Estevan) with, ‘home of Teanna Sieben,’ like you see with so many hockey players out there.”

Sieben meanwhile, is hoping she can make an even greater impact. She has a message for anyone with a disability.

“If you want to do this path, like this sport, and you want to play and someone is telling you not to do it, just do it, prove them wrong,” she said.

“I just tell them to follow your dreams, you may want to give up but don’t give up, don’t regret it, just follow your dreams.”

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