St. Thomas Aquinas College Softball and Women's Basketball standout, Missy Sadler was recently featured in the Journal News/Lohud.com, FiOS 1 News, News 12 and the NCAA Division II Twitter Account.
The Journal News/Lohud.com - Story by Mike Zacchio
STAC's Missy Sadler thriving as a two-sport star despite hearing impairment
SPARKILL - When Missy Sadler did not respond to her parents as a young child, it would have been easy to file the behavior under stubbornness and assume she would grow out of it. But when she did not respond to sound checks with a hearing specialist, it was clear something was wrong.
Sadler was diagnosed with a hearing impairment when she was just 2 years old and has been wearing hearing aids since the age of 3.
Although she loved sports from an early age, skeptics told her that her playing career would stop at the high school level. She's defied the odds to thrive as a sophomore student-athlete at St. Thomas Aquinas College, where Sadler is on scholarship for not one, but two Division II sports.
“It has taught me that no matter whatever challenges you face along the way in your life, you can always overcome it if you just believe in yourself and just go after it no matter how hard it is,” said Sadler, a former basketball and softball star at Marlboro High School.
“That’s life; you just have to go after it.”
Sadler is currently the starting center fielder and has the second-highest batting average on the Spartans’ softball team. She also led the women’s basketball team to a 27-5 record and its first NCAA Tournament win in program history.
Sadler missed the softball team’s first 12 games due to the deep postseason run of the basketball team. The Spartans were 2-10 in those games and have gone 6-8 since her return to the field.
Spartans softball coach Kristen Sullivan said she admires how Sadler has handled her situation in life and in sports, adding that she is inspired by the 20-year-old because of how grounded she is. When Sullivan was asked what is the most significant contribution Sadler has made to the team, she immediately said it was her determination.
“There’s not a pitcher that she wants to beat her, there’s not a ball in the outfield that she wants to drop,” Sullivan said. “Just being determined to be successful, I think, is her biggest attribute and that’s great for the rest of her life.”
Sullivan described Sadler as the type of player who would “run through a fence” in the field. While that statement would be a cliché in most circumstances, it’s actually true with Sadler.
During a high school state regional playoff game against Section 1 champion Rye Neck, Sadler robbed a home run in center field then fell into — and eventually over — the mesh fence at Rhinebeck High School.
She doesn’t use her hearing impairment as a crutch, and teammates said she never seeks out special treatment. But when Sadler talks about what it was like growing up, the pain is evident in her voice.
“I didn’t really have a lot of people to understand me besides my family,” she said. “It was just a struggle — a young kid that doesn’t really know what to do with herself because she can’t hear a lot of people, so she kind of felt different.”
Sadler said playing sports was the biggest hurdle to overcome in her life, and it’s a hurdle she still must clear every day. She still cannot wear hearing aids on the court or on the field, so teammates must speak louder than usual or use hand signals to communicate with her.
“I think she’s a great inspiration for everybody by not letting anything stop her,” said junior Alyssa Farr, who is Sadler’s softball teammate and roommate. “Even with the hearing impairment, she doesn’t make any excuses. She tries her best and she just keeps pursuing what she wants and her dreams and keeps persevering.”
Clarkstown South alumna and former Journal News/lohud Rockland softball player of the year Briana Keaveney echoed those remarks.
“I think it shows that anything is possible — anyone can do anything,” she said. “I think it’s very inspiring in showing people that just because you have something like that, it doesn’t mean you can’t follow your dreams and play a college sport.”
Sadler is happy to be an inspiration to those around her, but she appears to take more joy in having the last laugh over her doubters.
“I just want to play my game,” she said. “I just want to work hard like I’ve always done my whole life and overcome and, honestly, prove the people wrong that said I could not go further than high school.”
Verizon Fios 1 News - Story by Josh Rhoden
NCAA Division II Twitter Account
News 12 Westchester & Hudson Valley - Story by Pete Ruf