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Wenatchee

Deaf professional athlete inspires students

Group of students on stage with Matt Hamill

Students gather around Matt Hamill after his talk at WHS.

Matt Hamill, The Hammer" is a three-time NCAA D-III wrestling champion, a UFC fighter with an impressive 12 and 4 professional record, and Matt is deaf.

He now travels the world acting as a motivational speaker. On January 18, he came to Wenatchee High School to speak about his story of success. Danielle Meadows, WHS American Sign Language Teacher, and ASL Club Advisor, contacted Hamill after seeing one of his videos on social media. “The amount of work put into making this happen was definitely worth it,” said Meadows. “We do not have a lot of Deaf services in the Wenatchee area, so it was really special to see all students, but especially the Deaf students and community interact with Matt and have him to look up to.”

Hamill spoke to 250 attendees in the WHS Auditorium—he even taught a WHS wrestler a new move. Students from WSD’s Deaf Education Program were in attendance, and the event drew participants from other Deaf Education programs from around the state.  During his presentation, Hamill told students what life was like as a deaf kid growing up in Ohio, and elaborated on how he beat the odds to become a world-renowned athlete.

​​In 2010, a movie titled "The Hammer" was made about Hamill's life. Meadow’s students watched it in class before the talk, so they were prepared with questions. “Although my students were really nervous, Matt was very approachable and personable, and I think that helped my students feel comfortable and excited to meet him,” said Meadows. “He is full of positive energy! My students told me that meeting him was amazing, but they also heard about how he turned his failures into motivation. He's the real deal. It was really special to have him.” 

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