On the outside, looking at her you probably initially just see a pretty girl in a football uniform. Little do you know, not only is she that pretty girl in the uniform, but she actually DOES play football. Yup, that's right she can probably tackle you, and good too. Her and her and team, Harlingen Honeys, recently won the female SSFL superbowl championship.
She is a mom of four children, plays football, works teaching children gymnastics at South Motion Gymnastics and does it all being BOTH hearing and speech impaired.
Naturally, you may be curious onto how someone with hearing and speech impairment can even play football. Initially, she didn't want to play because she couldn't play with her hearing aid but her teammates encouraged her to take the jump. She did.
You probably won't believe this, but NONE of her games were played with her hearing aid.
She learned by doing a lot of one on one with the coaches and teammates. To truly understand a play, they made up signs so she could memorize and learn . Crystal is very good at reading lips and extremely visual. This is how she played football.
Crystal was born with her nerves damaged and never has been able to fully "hear" without her hearing aid. As a child, she was bullied because of how her speech was different. It was hard to make friends and really didn't have many as a little girl. She recalls one time how a kid just poured chocolate milk all over her because she was different. Crystal actually smiled as she told me that. I asked her why. She simply said, "Because now it's just so different. I used to be angry at the bullying now I just have moved passed it."
Even as an adult, she says sometimes people are still rude and don't understand what it's like to be "different." She thanks her parents for always pushing her and teaching her she was human just like anyone else.
She's had her share of hardships on top of having her impairments and bullying.
While giving birth to her son, her house burned down. An electrical fire happened due to a faulty power surge and was given the devastating news shortly after bringing her little one into the world. She felt lost and needed a lot of help. She did receive an abundant amount of help due her story spreading around the neighborhood and says she is forever grateful for those who helped her. She's got a passion for community work and that passion went into overdrive each time she overcame a hardship in her life.
On another positive note, she recently lost 70 lbs while playing in her football league. Her journey for fitness and staying active is very important to her. She says being in sports growing up helped her make friends and stay positive. Crystal wants to share her message of teaching those with disabilities or handicaps that they are very much capable of doing what they love.
Her teammate, Victoria Vento describes her as resilient and admires how she doesn't let herself be brought down by any negativity thrown at her.
She is a prime example of just that. <3
By Michelle Lee
Photos By Michelle Lee Photography