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A silent leader

November 19, 2003

Valdosta-- Imagine attending a football game and not being able to hear fans cheering or the band playing your school's fight song. No whistles or screams, no air horns. Welcome to Gary Moore's life.

Moore, a senior defensive end for the Lowndes High Vikings is completely deaf, and has been since birth. "I had a sickness with a real high fever and that made me become deaf," Moore said through an interpreter.

Evelyn Chivers is Gary's interpreter. Since his disability also renders him unable to speak, Chivers acts as Gary's voice. "The interpreter can help involve me (in practice and the games) so the coaches can tell me what to do, so I can learn and that motivates me," Moore signed.

In just his first year with the Vikings, Gary has quickly become one of the most well liked and respected players on the team.

"I think he's taught the kids something and that is never to give up. Because he's facing things that don't happen in life. I mean he's deaf and he's been deaf his whole life," Moore's position coach Bill Cribb said.

On top of that, he's a good football player.

"I'm telling you, if he was here for another year he'd be starting for us next year. No doubt about it," Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson said.

Since his playing time has been limited to special teams and backup defensive end work, Gary is perhaps better known for his actions off the field.

"We were at football camp in Douglas and what really touched my heart was when his father had fell off a roof or something and broken his hip. And coach asked Gary if he wanted to go (to the hospital) and he said he wanted to stay there with us and practice. That really touched my heart," senior Johnny Cook said.

"I was worried about my father, but when I heard he was all right I just decided to stick with my commitment to be at camp," Moore added.

He says playing the sport has helped him grow as a person. And when his senior season comes to an end this year, it won't be the last time he steps on a football field.

"I want to be a teacher or coach, football coach, a head coach or something like that. Really, I just want to help deaf people grow and become more involved in the team and learn and things like that."

And by the time he does become a coach, his teammates will have already learned at least one valuable lesson. Actions speak louder than words.

Posted at 1:30am by kevin.mcdermond@walb.com