Apr 28, 2016
Deaf Athletic Trainer Overcomes Challenges

Shane Winkenwader, the first full-time athletic trainer at Dillworth-Glyndon-Felton (Minn.) High School, has been deaf since he was two years old. But that has not prevented him from excelling in his position.

“Being deaf is awesome because the only thing you can’t do is hear,” Winkenwader said. “Being deaf doesn’t stop me at all.”

According to Inforum, Winkenwader, who started at the school this year, compensates for his inability to hear by reading lips and using notes on his phone to communicate with athletes. His athletes, in addition to using the phone, also point at their problems, and some have learned sign language.

Tyler Oberg, a football player, wrestler and catcher for D-G-F, said he and others sometimes play pranks on Winkenwader, but they also respect him.

“(Winkenwader) does a phenomenal job at a job that requires a lot of communication between people to make it work. It shows if you want to do something, all you got to do is do it, and it can be done,” said Oberg.

A multi-sport athlete also sings the athletic trainer’s praises.

“We learned sign language for him,” D-G-F volleyball, basketball and softball player Alyson Brenna said. “He’s really open with it. He wants to communicate with you. It’s amazing. He had obstacles that he had to overcome, and he works with it.”

Joe O’Keefe, D-G-F’s Athletic Director, said that because more people were getting involved in the school’s athletic program, they needed a full-time athletic trainer, and it did not matter that the one they hired was deaf.

“I said I don’t care,” O’Keefe said. “Since (Winkenwader)’s started, our kids, our coaches love him. He goes above and beyond what he needs to do. He’s supposed to be here with the home games and the practices, but he’ll travel with our teams when he can. Our coaches don’t have to make any decisions now because he is on site.”

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