Silence a loud factor in life for Lacey Drolsbaugh

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Allyson Leddy

Sarah Gasper (left), Lacey Drolsbaugh (middle), and Sadira Ramic (right) at North Penn High School

Roaring teammates, and cheering crowds might seem like an athlete’s dream, but for Lacey Drolsbaugh, most of her athletic success has been spent in silence. 

Deafness is not a stranger for North Penn softball player Lacey. As she grew up surrounded by her parents and her oldest brother Darren who are deaf, she has always been aware of her family’s struggles that come from being hard of hearing. To her, Lacey thought her hearing was normal, but realization soon started to sink in as people around her expressed their concerns about her hearing. In July of 2021, Lacey was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss and reached out to doctors about receiving hearing aids. In September of 2021, she started wearing them during her everyday life and was ecstatic. That is until school resumed in person. Amongst having to adjust to her new hearing aids she also faces the daily struggles of junior year, waitressing at the very popular Pizza Time Saloon, and trying out for her 3rd year of North Penn softball.

Lacey and her family have always been a very active family. Lacey started playing softball at the age of 5 and started playing travel at the age of 10. She played for the Montgomery Twisters and Banshees Black until she was 14. That then progressed to her playing for the PA Vypers Gold 18U team at the age of 15, while also playing for North Penn’s softball team. 

Even before her hearing loss, Lacey looked up to her brother Darren, who has played for multiple rec. league teams and Connie Mack, a community based baseball league. He is now the captain of the baseball team at Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf, in Washington, DC. 

“Anyone who knows me knows that Darren is one of the most important people in my life. Darren has always given 100% to baseball and he never let anybody tell him that he wasn’t capable,” Lacey explained. 

As a deaf baseball player himself, Darren’s playing techniques to not let his deafness hold him back motivates Lacey.

“His love for the sport kept him going and now he’s a college athlete. He is a constant reminder to me that this does not impact my athletic ability and I can be great if I put the hard work and love into the sport,” Lacey said.

She plans on bringing this advice, and these techniques with her into North Penn’s 2021-22 softball season. 

I have the most respect for Coach Torresani, and it’s an honor to know and play for him. All the girls involved with the softball team are so talented, and it’s amazing to play and learn beside all of them”

— Lacey Drolsbaugh

“I have the most respect for Coach Torresani, and it’s an honor to know and play for him. All the girls involved with the softball team are so talented, and it’s amazing to play and learn beside all of them,”  Lacey stated.

Growing up playing for an array of softball teams, Lacey’s Dad, Mark Drolsbaugh, was very actively involved. Having a deaf parent with other parents and children who may not understand Mr. Drolsbaugh’s deafness creates a very unique communication dynamic between Lacey and him. 

Susan Yee, was fluent in American Sign Language. It was awesome because she used it all the time with us and even when I was on the field”

— Lacey Drolsbaugh

“Growing up I tried my best to be a communicator for my coaches to my parents. I would do a little bit of interpreting for my parents when people stopped by or when we would use a drive through. Once I started playing for the PA Vypers Gold 18U team the head coach, Susan Yee, was fluent in American Sign Language. It was awesome because she used it all the time with us and even when I was on the field. Being hard of hearing can make it a challenge to communicate now, but we are all adjusting,” Lacey responded. 

Lacey actively shares awareness about the deaf community on her social media, as well as sharing her own experiences being hard of hearing.

“I’ve noticed that some of the people I thought were my friends, weren’t really my friends. Some of them haven’t even said a word to me regarding my hearing loss. But, I’ve also noticed how many amazing friends I have too. They do things being considerate of my hearing loss without me even having to ask. It’s the friends like these that feel like a safe space for me,” Lacey admits. 

Lacey herself has seen many people make jokes about the deaf community, or see it as a light-hearted issue when to many people within the community, it is extremely offensive.

“I just want to tell people my biggest message is to be kind and considerate to everyone you cross paths with. This journey has really taught me how much you don’t know about a person’s internal struggles. Everyone is navigating themselves in an already difficult time, don’t make it harder for each other,” Lacey said. 

Lacey shared how not only is her hearing loss physically affecting her, but mentally as well.

“As much as my hearing aids are helpful, they can be really frustrating to the point of a breakdown sometimes. One day at work the batteries died during the middle of my shift and I freaked out in the bathroom. I’m still adjusting, trying to figure out what my preferences are and what I’m comfortable with. So, it’s overall a very confusing time for me,” Lacey explained. 

The deaf community continuously receives questions based on how their hearing is in a physical sense, but are never asked how it can impact their mental health. Similar to any other injury, or illness it can make many tasks feel more stressful than it may be to someone who does not struggle with the same situation. In social outings, work, or school Lacey tends to feel overwhelmed and left out. 

“It has impacted me more mentally than physically I would say. It’s enough of an adjustment to come back into school after a year and a half, but to come back with hearing loss while taking advanced courses in the most important year of high school is a lot to juggle,” Lacey stated.

Although losing her hearing at such a prime age in her life, Lacey continues to face every day with a positive attitude and a smile. She plans on continuing to share awareness of her community, and her own personal experiences. 

“Be aware and educate yourself. Make life accessible and comfortable for those around you,” Lacey stated, finishing with a proud smile and beautiful new hearing aids.