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Ben Davis senior inspires, provides new perspective for top-ranked Giants

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.  - Spencer Parker suits up at wide receiver for the Ben Davis Giants, but his contribution to the team is something stats can't measure.

"I think he's an inspiration to anybody," head coach Mike Kirschner said. "Even as a coach that's been out here for 34 years he provides inspiration."

"There's no difference from the other team members and myself,” Spencer, who is deaf, said through signing with an interpreter.” We're a team. We're a unit."

Parker was introduced to football as a middle schooler at the School for the Deaf. When he transferred to Ben Davis just before the school year, Spencer had to quickly learn an entirely new system and fight his way onto the field.

"I got in because I just need to give your heart during practice, give your heart on the field and show the coach, hey  I can play, even though I'm deaf."

Spencer has thrived with his new team, and they've adapted their communication on the field.

"The interpreter stands right there (on the sideline) when we say something,  Spencer nods,” Kirschner said. “And there are certain things that we do that are certain cues that he can follow require no hearing whatsoever.”

"During a game, I interact with the coaches. Som times, if they make a change, the quarterback will let me know of the change.” Parker said.

Starting a new school as a senior, earning a spot on the top-ranked 6A team in the state, while also being the only deaf player are obstacles many would struggle to overcome. But rather than obstacles, Spencer saw opportunity.

"it's not because of being deaf or being a bigger school that it's hard, since I’ve come into Ben Davis, it's been pretty easy and we've been very cooperative. We've been really connected. We've had a brotherhood, regardless of my being deaf."

With just a few weeks left in his senior season, Spencer has his sights set on the state's highest stage.

"I'd like to be able to play in the state championship,” he signed with a smile. “ If we do well in the playoffs and we get to state, I’d like to check that off. That is a goal of mine."

After graduation, spencer has his sights set on attending Indiana University. His interpreter is encouraging him to consider walking on to the Hoosiers football team.