CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The high school wrestling season finally gets underway this week with matches scheduled all over the Coastal Bend. Veterans Memorial Junior Autumn Alvarez is writing her own success story. She is deaf but still qualified for state last year and wants to become the first deaf wrestler to win a UIL state title.
"I want to win every match and every tournament," said Alvarez through an interpreter. "But most of all I want to become the first deaf wrestler to win state."
Alvarez lives in Beeville, but since Veterans Memorial is the Regional Day School For The Deaf, she has been making that one hour trip to Corpus Christi every day for the past three years.
"She is really determined to win," said Veterans Memorial wrestling coach Ed Arvin. " I think that determination and grit has made her successful in wrestling."
Another key to Alvarez's success has been her ability to communicate with coach Arvin as he delivers instruction through an interpreter during practice and matches.
"Part of the unique challenge for deaf wrestlers is they have have to really focus on wrestling with their eyes up," said Arvin. "They have to be able to see what the interpreter is signing to them."
Alavarez must also be able to focus on her opponent.
"The hearing wrestlers can hear everything that is going around them like the crowd screaming and coaches yelling," said Alvarez " I have to watch the wrestler I am competing against and read their movement."
Alvarez wants to also be an inspiration for all deaf athletes. "My first time coming into wrestling I was a little nervous but I learned it and picked it up a little bit a time and I got more comfortable," said Alvarez.
The Eagles will take on Carroll in their first match of the season Thursday.