“Scared” isn’t a word that is in J.L. Mann volleyball star’s Lauren McCutcheon vocabulary.

She isn’t scared of what will face her on the volleyball court or off, and the fact that she is deaf doesn’t scare her either. McCutcheon was born without the ability to hear, but that hasn’t stopped her from thriving.  

The junior, a team captain with the Patriots, committed to play volleyball at the University of South Carolina this week. In July, she was selected to the United States National Women’s Deaf Volleyball team, which will compete in Brazil in the Pan-Am Qualifiers in November and the World Championships in Italy in July 2020.  

I’m thankful that God made me this way, and I’m happy I get to go out of the country for the first time,” McCutcheon said. “I can’t wait to meet new people and play with them while being deaf during the game.”

Uncomfortable silence

Kendra Stout remembers the times when her daughter Jordyn would come running through the bedroom while her 18-month-younger sister was sleeping and the baby wouldn’t be disturbed from her slumber.

That silence wasn’t comforting to Stout, who knew enough to know that something might be wrong with her daughter’s ability to hear.

They had conducted screenings with an ear, nose and throat specialist when Lauren was 6 months old. When during an appointment the doctor banged a cowbell and Lauren looked up, there was hope.

In the the weeks after, Stout was warier. She paid closer attention to Lauren’s responses to noise.

When Lauren wasn’t wakened as a result of Jordyn’s normal, toddler-like behavior, Stout took some drastic action for a parent, usually happy for the respite provided by an occasional nap.

Stout took two metal pans and banged them over Lauren’s crib while she was sleeping. Lauren continued to rest peacefully.  A trip to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston confirmed what her parents had feared: Lauren was deaf.

Stout said she needed to take a few minutes when she heard the diagnosis. She realized her family life was about to get a lot harder. 

“God works in mysterious ways because you have that moment, and then you walk out of the office and you see all these other children coming out where they might be confined to a chair for the rest of their life,” Stout said. “It’s a moment where you realize that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. She’s going to be OK. She’s loved and supported, and there could be worse things that could happen.”