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Rice ready for Team USA

Girls' Soccer

CdM freshman has earned spot on U.S. Soccer Deaf Women's National Team and is headed to Bulgaria this summer.

June 01, 2013|By Matt Szabo
  • Chloe Rice, 15, left, of Newport Beach, competes against U.S.A women's national Deaf Soccer teammate Anna Smither, right, during practice at the Ranch Soccer Complex in San Juan Capistrano. Rice is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids in both ears when she is not playing soccer.
Chloe Rice, 15, left, of Newport Beach, competes against… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Chloe Rice has never thought of herself as having a disability.

Rice lives an active life. She's a freshman soccer player at Corona del Mar High, where she is a good student. She also enjoys scuba diving and snowboarding. She had competed in gymnastics.

Physically, nothing is wrong, either. The blonde-haired 15-year-old stands just 5-foot-2, but she holds her own on the pitch. And she doesn't talk differently, unlike many other people who are presented with the same challenge that Rice does face on an everyday basis.

She is hard of hearing. This might not be obvious when you first meet her. She's good at reading lips. But, when she's not playing soccer, she wears hearing aids in both ears.

Rice definitely knows how to live with her hearing loss. Yet, in a way, it has provided her with a great opportunity. She has become a great fit on the team that amusingly calls itself, "The best team you've never heard of."

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Rice has earned a spot on the United States Soccer Deaf Women's National Team. She will be representing her country at the 22nd Deaflympics, in Sofia, Bulgaria beginning July 26.

"My eyes just popped out of my head," Rice said of her reaction when she found out she made the team. "I was so excited. I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm going to Bulgaria.' That just made me beyond excited. It's like a fantasy, you know? I never thought I'd get this opportunity. It's just amazing."

Rice has been playing club soccer for nearly half her life, since she was 8. She plays for the high-level Southern California Blues, and Coach Ben Helm. It was Helm who helped Rice make the connection with U.S. Coach Yon Struble, also a collegiate coach at Carnegie Mellon University, when Helm had a girls' under-18 player who wanted to go to that college.

Helm began talking with Struble, who mentioned that he was also the head coach for the Deaf Women's National Team. For Rice, the rest was history.

Rice went to a camp in Florida in April, which served as a tryout, then found out she made the team. The Blues also hosted another national team camp recently, at the Ranch Soccer Complex in San Juan Capistrano. The final camp before Bulgaria will be in Kansas, in mid-June.

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