- Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman Jr. is NFL's first legally deaf offensive player
- With Super Bowl nearing, hearing-impaired girl sends message: "Just try your best"
- Coleman tweets back to the 9-year-old
- "Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals & dreams"
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks player Derrick Coleman Jr. probably expected an onslaught of encouragement from his fans.
But one earnest letter from a young fan posted on Twitter stood out, prompting the Super Bowl-bound fullback to write his own heartfelt response.
The letter-writer was identified as 9-year-old Riley Kovalcik, who is hearing impaired, according to CNN affiliate KOMO. Kovalick is from Roxbury, New Jersey.
In a hand-written letter tweeted to the player, Kovalcik tells Coleman that she, like him, wears hearing aids. Her father tweeted the player a photo of the letter.
Coleman is the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL.
"Here are some things we have in comen [sic]," Kovalcik wrote in the note, which her father posted online. "I where [sic] two hearing aids. I love sports."
Kovalcik goes on to say that her identical twin sister also wears hearing aids, and wishes Coleman luck in the Super Bowl.
"Just try your best," she wrote.
Riley's father, Jake Kovalcik, tweeted the letter to Coleman on Tuesday, accompanied by the message: "You've inspired my little girls in a way I never could. THANK YOU!"
The tweet quickly made the rounds on social media, spurring a hand-written response, which Coleman posted on Wednesday.
"Thanks for the letter," Coleman wrote. "Really was great hearing from a friend who I have so much in common with. I appreciate you rooting for the Seahawks and me and hope you continue to do so when we play in the Superbowl!!!"
"Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals & dreams," he wrote.
In a CNN.com column in December, the fullback said that being deaf has "made me who I am."
"The struggle, pain, tears, happiness and joy has put me in the position where I am today," he said.