Sophomore Eddie Perry plays to his strengths
When Eddie Perry was a child, sports were his passion. Raised in an athletic family, he started young, playing everything from soccer to basketball.
“When I was a kid, sports were my way of interacting with [hearing] kids,” says the DePaul sophomore from Dellwood, Minn., who was discovered to be deaf at 18 months of age. “I know kids probably looked at me differently. But sports kind of blew by that. You just played,” he says.
A cochlear implant and hearing aid inserted when he was a toddler gave Perry most of his hearing back, and he attended a specialized preschool to learn how to talk and speak.
Perry was recruited by DePaul during his junior year at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minn., where he was a dual-sport letter winner in soccer and basket-ball. He helped lead St. Thomas to the 2017 sectional title and was named the 2016–17 Defensive Player of the Year. In 2017 he was the recipient of the Tony Sanneh Foundation Most Inspirational Person Award.
Today, the DePaul sophomore is a valued member of the Blue Demons men’s soccer team. “It feels like family here, and it’s only six hours away from home. I love my teammates, the coaches and the city,” he says.
Playing college-level sports is a family tradition. His sister, Carly, now studying abroad, played on the women’s soccer team at American University in Washington, D.C., and his cousin, Bianca Perry (BUS ’17), played women’s soccer for DePaul.
So far it’s been thrilling to be part of the team. “I was really proud last year when we finished off the season strong. We beat Marquette and knocked them out of the BIG EAST Tournament,” says Perry, who plays defender.
Despite the modern-day miracle that has given him hearing, Perry still faces challenges.
“I have to look around so much more than the usual person just to see what my teammates are saying. There are times when I’m facing away from everyone, and it’s hard for me to hear. Or if there’s a windy or a rainy day, it’s going to be tough,” he says.
Anticipating his challenges, Perry briefs his teammates at the start of the year. “I tell them about my hearing loss so they can understand what I’m hearing and not hearing. Then I give them tips on how to talk to me,” he says.
Coach Mark Plotkin (BUS ’10) says, “Eddie is one of the most well-liked guys on the team. He also does a great job of putting himself in positions to help himself be successful.”
Although Perry continues to work hard on his speech and comprehension, he is grateful for who he is.
“My hearing aid and implant have helped me learn to appreciate everything in life,” he says. “Not everything is given to you. You’ve got to work for it, and you’ve got to make the best of your situation, too. I might not be able to hear everything, but I can hear what I can, and make great friends along the way.”