Carlos Ramos can’t hear the chants from the crowd of even the cadences of opposing quarterbacks. That doesn’t stop him from being an effective defensive lineman for Cigarroa High School, though. Ramos has been deaf for most of his life, but his disability has proved to be a footnote for his football career.

“A lot of people think deaf people can’t do this because it’s a hearing world,” Ramos said. “I feel like we can play football. I feel a little bit rebellious doing so. I’m very capable of playing football. It’s an even playing field out there.”

Ramos hadn’t played football during his early years, waiting until he was in middle school to get on the field. He pleaded with his parents to let him get on the gridiron, and they eventually accepted. Out of all of the players in Laredo schools, Ramos is the only one that’s deaf. He’s been a high level player for Cigarroa, too.

“He’s an excellent player,” said one of his teammates. “He just puts in the work. He’s just one of the guys. He’s a key player to his defense.” Their head coach, Carlo Hein, echoed these statements. “He’s just been a real special part of our D.D.C. culture,” which stands for Discipline, Dedication and Commitment.

“In coaching, your kids are going to learn from you, but you are also going to learn from them,” Hein added. “He’s a great example of perseverance. A great example of no excuses and getting the job done. I love the way he cares about the program. He’s always looking out and making sure his teammates are doing the right thing. It’s just been a blessing to be his coach.”

His teammates have learned sign language to assist Ramos with calls on defense. “It’s really helpful for my line to know sign language,” he said. “It’s easy to communicate. It’s better than no communication at all…I feel like since I’m the only deaf player, I try my best to be a good example for the deaf community. I don’t want to disappoint them.”