Marvin Pearson, a senior running back at Pottstown High in Pennsylvania, is far from your average football player. For one thing, he’s blind. For another, he has almost no natural hearing left.
Pearson (seen in the middle above in a photo by Sam Stewart of Digital First Media, flanked by Zach Griffin on the left and Draeden Gwinner on the right) started losing his sight in second grade, then fully lost it in fourth grade. He’s almost entirely deaf as well, but has high-powered hearing aids that help him hear teammates. He spent the last three years at the Overbrook School for the Blind, but opted to return to his home school for his senior year. That also gave him an opportunity to play football with the Trojans, as Stewart writes at PA Prep Live:
Pearson may be blind – he started losing his vision in second grade and fully lost his sight two years later – but one wouldn’t realize it on first glance … or maybe the second or the third.
That’s because the senior running back is indistinguishable during practice and in games. Donning his No. 28 jersey and navy blue Trojans helmet, Pearson does what any player does. He participates in drills in practice, warms up and sprints out with the team for games. With the help of his “play-by-play analyst” freshman Zack Griffin, Pearson is kept in the know of each play, where receivers line up, the score, the time, down and distance, and when to yell out the “motion, motion” call.
Pearson is almost entirely deaf as well, but wears high-powered hearing aids that allow him to hear his teammates.
There isn’t anything he can’t do … and he’ll let you know of that.
“Nothing is out of reach, everything is in reach,” Pearson said. “Me playing football, everyone asks “Marvin, how do you play football?’ I just tell them, come out and watch me. Look at the way I never give up, or encourage our guys to do better.”
Don’t think Pearson is just a cheerleader either.
“He loves it,” [head coach Gary] Rhodenbaugh said. “During the scouting report he asks questions, good questions. He’s definitely into the strategy and the X’s and O’s.
“It’s been a feeling out process, what accommodations would benefit him and what is he comfortable with. Earlier today (Wednesday) we were doing tackling stations, he participates. It’s been a real cool experience for him and for us.”
That’s great to see Pearson able to play football, and it’s awesome to see the team do what they can to help him out. Pearson is no stranger to playing sports without vision, though. At the Overbrook School in Philadelphia, he shone in track and field, competing in the 50-meter, 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter events and losing only one race since Grade 10. He also shone in “Goalball,” a three-on-three game designed specifically for blind athletes that features a ball embedded with bells. He told Stewart he hopes to stay in sports in college and after college, too, looking to work as an agent or a scout. For now, though, he’s focused on the Trojans’ big homecoming game against Pottsgrove Saturday, and also on a homecoming of his own:
“There was an opportunity for me to come back and graduate with my class and with the kids I’ve known since the first grade,” Pearson said. “Growing up, we’ve always been a family. People that live in Pottstown, they kind of never leave. They kind of just stay here. I’m not exactly sure why, but Pottstown is a great town. I’m just happy I had the opportunity to be able to come back. It was a better academic opportunity, better athletic opportunity. I just wanted to feel what it’s like being around the people again before I go off to college.”