Deaf wrestler fights ruling from MHSAA

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – 18-year-old Ellis Kempf is the captain of the Royal Oak High School wrestling team and a fierce competitor who just happens to be deaf.

Kempf has been deaf since he was 2 years old. He has a cochlear implant, but can't wear his processor when he wrestles.

His coach and sign interpreter were on the mat to help him understand until the MHSAA said no, claiming it gives him an unfair advantage and may block his opponent's view. Kempf's attorney doesn't agree.

The Kempf family went the legal route and filed a lawsuit when they got no action from the MHSAA.

"I don't know what the deal is," a family member said.

Kempf is a three-varsity letter athlete, playing football, track and wrestling. But wrestling is his passion.

"Wrestling is the best," he said.

He said he can't compete if he can't hear what his coach is saying through sign language.

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