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Brock’s hearing impairment was discovered early in his life; yet, the family never let the issue hold him back. “Brock was born six weeks early and had to remain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for two weeks. Prior to Brock coming home, he had to take the newborn hearing screening. He failed twice in both ears and we were referred to an audiologist,” Brock’s mother Tabatha explained. “After numerous visits to doctors and audiologists, Brock was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy. He had moderate/ severe hearing loss in his left ear and severe/profound loss in his right. Doctors believe that his hearing loss was possibly caused by antibiotics given to him while in the NICU.”

Upon discovering the issue, doctors gave the Nobles family two options: to pursue a cochlear implant and therapy, or to learn sign language to communicate with Brock and consider a school for the deaf. “We opted to try implanting and decided that our backup plan would be sign language,” Tabatha said. “The cochlear implant was successful and has been such a blessing for Brock. He is only implanted in his right ear, and he has a little residual hearing in his left ear. He completed about three years of therapy at the Auditory Verbal Center, which is located in Atlanta. Early on in elementary school, he exhibited a lot of frustration, which is where sports helped tremendously, especially football and wrestling.”

She added, “Our goal was for Brock to communicate with others effectively and to be as well rounded of a child as he could be. We believe that all children need lots of love and support, but that they also need to gradually be pushed beyond their comfort zone to really excel, and that’s what we did.”

The Nobles’ method truly worked, as Brock not only learned to communicate in his early years, but also began playing football, a decision that would change his life drastically, as the graduate will be attending The Citadel for college while on a full-ride scholarship to play football.

While the adoring fans in the stands at the Pit (Toombs County Bulldog Stadium) would have never known, Brock has played football for years throughout both middle and high school, while struggling to decipher voices in the loud cheers, and while wearing a specialized skull cap and helmet to ensure his cochlear implant is protected.

“Even with the implant, large crowds and noisy rooms make it challenging to decipher what is being said. Getting the device to remain on his head during any physical activity has been a challenge. He wears a skull cap with a pocket sewn in for his external hearing piece to keep it from constantly falling off,” Tabatha clarified. “We have purchased helmets with additional protection in them for him throughout his football career. In middle and high school, we had the helmets painted to the team’s specifications so that it would not be noticeable.”

The Nobles goal for their son has always been that he would fulfill his potential, not allowing anything, including a hearing impairment, to hold him back. According to Griggers, the Outstanding Deaf Award showcases that success.

“Brock is incredible; he is an excellent student and an accomplished athlete. So, to know that he is also deaf just adds to how impressive he is,” Griggers remarked.

The Outstanding Deaf Award is one of three awards given at the State Lions Convention to honor those who have overcome hearing or sight loss, or who have significantly impacted individuals with these issues. The Lyons Lions chose to nominate Brock for this award after reading up on his commitment to play football at the Citadel.

“The nomination period came up, and I had just read about Brock’s signing,” Griggers shared. “His grandparents, Darriel and Lucretia Nobles, are also in our Club, so it just felt right to nominate him for this award. We talked to his parents, and they took several weeks to think about whether or not to apply, but ultimately, they did, and he was the state winner.”

Brock commented on the award, emphasizing, “I’m honored that they considered me. I hope it shows other kids with hearing loss that they can do it, too.”

When asked how he overcame these obstacles in life, Brock remarked, “I just learned to push through when things were hard. My favorite verse is Philippians 4:13 – ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ ” Ultimately, Brock said continued from page

that these lessons will help him with his next adventures in college. “I know that I’m going to have to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I just remind myself that things are going to be hard at times but the hard times don’t last forever. I know I can be successful if I stay focused and push through. I just have to ‘Be A DOG’ by being Driven, by being an Overcomer, and by Grinding,” he said with a reference to the slogan of the Bulldogs football team of which he was a member.

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