At just eight months old, bacteria meningitis severely effected University of Mary fullback Michael Buster's hearing.
"My right side is considered dead," Buster said, "so that would be the deaf side. And then my left side would be profoundly hard of hearing."
Despite the setback, Michael played football in high school and is the Marauders starting fullback.
"The only problem I have is hearing the whistle sometimes," Buster said, "but it doesn't impact my ability to play football."
Michael wears a hearing aid. But the further the sound is from him, the less likely he is to hear it.
"On special teams," UMary head coach Josh Kotelnicki said, "the further you are away without a coach around him, the more difficult it is. He kind of has to look around to see what everyone else is doing before he knows what's going on usually."
Wind also is a factor. In UMary's first game of the season, Michael's hearing aid picked up the roaring wind more than the officials whistle.
"I was leaving a little early for the ball," Buster said. "[The official] would get mad at me because I wasn't listening to him. Grant it, because I couldn't hear him. [The official] came up to me after the game and said, 'I [understand]. and he'll pay attention for it next game.'"
However, moments like those are rare, but Michael isn't a person to use his hearing loss as a crutch.
"I never had an excuse with my hearing," Buster said. "It's pretty easy to watch the ball."
Michael and UMary hope to pick up their first win the of the season tonight against Upper Iowa.
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