Sammie Gehrls of Caledonia overcomes a disability to be a standout athleteSoftball  |
Caledonia - By the time she was in the third grade, Sammie Gehrls was cringing over upcoming trips to the doctor's office, the endless testing and the frustration due to a lack of answers.
But somewhere along the line, the Caledonia sophomore and two-sport star decided that a puzzling condition that had left her deaf in one ear since birth wasn't going to hold her back. Gehrls resolved to lead a normal life, which has included standout careers in softball and basketball, impressive scholastic achievements that feature a 3.8 grade point average, a variety of interests and the typical social life of any teenager.
Gehrls, 16, refuses to concern herself with the what-ifs or could-have-beens.
"It is what it is," Gehrls said. "I just want to make the best of what I've got. I can't hear and I wish that I could. I guess sometimes I do wonder if I'm missing something, like in softball if I'm missing signals. But I won't let anything hold me back; I just accept it and say that's what God had in mind for me."
It's easy to make a case the condition hasn't come close to holding Gehrls back. She hit .549 with a school-record 15 homers while posting a 21-2 record with a 1.37 ERA and 179 strikeouts in helping the Scots to the Division 1 final a year ago. Gehrls holds the school record for career homers with 19. She's off to a 3-1 start with a 1.64 ERA this season for the Scots, ranked No. 1 in the state by State Champs. Last winter Gehrls, a 5-foot-11 forward, helped Caledonia's basketball team to its first league championship since 1994 by averaging double figures.
Instead of concerning herself over the negatives from a condition that might last a lifetime, Gehrls is determined to lead a normal life. Her philosophy, in fact, is simple.
"I don't know what I'm missing, I don't know any different," she said. "I've adapted."
Gehrls' condition wasn't discovered until she underwent a pre-kindergarten test that showed her with approximately four percent of hearing in her right ear. Other than slightly more ear infections than other children, Gehrls, who has normal hearing in her left