Members of the Oswego County BOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Club were recently invited to an anti-bullying presentation at the Fulton Junior High School.
The speaker was Matt Hamill, a deaf wrestler and MMA fighter.
Hamill is a three-time NCAA Wrestling Division III National Champion, a Hall of Fame RIT
Athletics inductee and fought in the UFC for seven years. A movie, The Hammer, was made about Hamill’s life growing up and his accomplishments as a collegiate wrestler.
Oswego County BOCES students watched the film prior to Hamill’s visit to Fulton.
Tammy Seymour, Teacher of the Deaf/HH at OCB, explained that while the students were aware of the fieldtrip, the actual presenter was a surprise.
Hamill talked with students about his life prior to becoming involved in sports. Hamill spent some time in a special education classroom because of his hearing impairment, but was moved to a regular education program.
Without an interpreter, Hamill would sit through lessons unaware of what the teachers were communicating. He used classmate’s notes to follow along, and eventually learned how to sign in high school.
It was important for Hamill and his family that he integrated among his non-hearing impaired peers. The avenue that presented itself was wrestling, where he excelled.
“We all have different obstacles, don’t let them stop you from achieving your goals or overcoming barriers,” said Fulton Wrestling Coach Jeff Waldron, mimicking Hamill’s message.
The guest of honor spent time with the BOCES students and their families after his speaking engagement, signing autographs and taking pictures. Hamill was able to visit the school because of the efforts of Waldron and the BOCES Deaf and Hard of Hearing Club, who served as co-hosts of the event.