‘A silent thunder’

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But it was the beginning of an uphill battle for Sandra, who had to learn to function in a normal school setting. She attended BOCES classes before school to perfect her speech in the years after her surgery. “I had to develop my language,” she said. “My language wasn’t right.”

Hearing through the implant, she explained, is like listening to a slightly out-of-tune radio. To this day, sounds coming from all directions sometimes become distorted, leading her to miss things. As a result, she had no choice but to develop an assertive personality at an early age. “If someone’s talking and it’s a noisy conversation and I didn’t understand,” she said, “I have to stick up for myself and tell them what I missed.”

In school, Sandra sits in the front of the classroom. She uses a text interpreter, which types out everything the teacher says on a computer, and which she can access when she gets home.

A member of the National Junior Honor Society since 2008 and a soon-to-be inductee into the high school’s American Sign Language Honor Society, she has not only overcome her impairment, but through hard work, she has proven that she’s no different than any other high school girl.

“When she talks,” said Denise, “you wouldn’t even notice she’s deaf.”

Success on the field

Pitching runs through the Foster bloodline. Tom pitched as a high school student in Valley Stream. Sandra’s older brother, Tom Jr., 19, was also a pitcher. And her younger sister, Rosie, a fifth-grader at Barnum Woods Elementary School, recently started pitching.

Sandra started playing softball when she was about 7. She began in the East Meadow Baseball Softball Association, and whichever team she played on, Tom always served as one of the team coaches. “It was harder for her, being deaf,” said Denise. “With the cochlear, she had to try harder to listen to the sounds. So it was harder for her to learn all the instructions.”

But as she has with everything else in her life, she adapted. And having her father in the dugout, said Sandra, made all the difference in her early years. “I would go to him and say, ‘What am I doing wrong?’” she said. “And he would help me.

“My dad is my best friend,” she added.
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