Imagine playing volleyball but not being able to hear your teammates yell "Got it!" or "Spike!"

Volley4Sound, a nonprofit, will recreate the experience by requiring players to wear ear plugs when they hit the sand for the second annual friendly tournament for charity.

The co-ed 4v4 volleyball match, designed to show people the difficulties of communicating with limited hearing, is set north of the pier in Hermosa Beach Oct. 19. 

“We hope everyone can better understand and we hope to eradicate the stigma the deaf and hearing impaired kids face everyday,” founder Kelsey Brandin explained. “I feel the only way people can truly understand is to experience it and know the struggle.

When the 25-year-old Manhattan Beach local was a little girl, she used to cover her ears to hide her hearing aids. 

“I didn’t want accommodations in school,” Brandin explained. “I didn’t want people to know I had a hearing loss because I didn’t think I could make friends or that I wouldn’t be cool enough.”

Now an archive research operator at Comcast NBCUniversal, Brandin credits her success to Margie Hindenlang, a hearing specialist she began working with age 4 who taught her that being unique was better than being perfect. 

“I started to better understand and accept it near high school graduation,” she said, adding that Hindenlang waited to retire her until Brandin graduated from Mira Costa High School in 2012. “She was the best teacher I've ever had and always made sure I wasn't alone!”

But when Hindenlang was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after retirement, Brandin knew she had to find a way to support her longtime mentor.

“I asked her what cause she'd like me to support and she said hearing loss,” she said.

So in Hindenlang’s honor and to give back to the hearing impaired community, Brandin founded Volley4Sound in 2018. 

The first year of the tournament raised $5,000 for nonprofit No Limits for Deaf Children, according to Brandin.

This year's proceeds, including the $35 registration fee per player and proceeds from a silent auction to have a professional player such as Miles Evans, Irene Pollock or Michael Boag on your team, will benefit the nonprofit Hearing Loss Association of America, she said.

"I want to support different hearing loss non-profits each year to learn about them and to support ALL instead of just one," Brandin added. “We're all about having fun and while at it we're giving back to the community!"

The 2019 tournament will also be special, Brandin said, as it continues to honor Hindenlang who passed away at the end of last year.

“This tournament is (also) in honor of...Margie...she inspired me to be a role model for others.” 

“It’s super special when everyone wears the ear plugs and it means the world to me,” she continued. “People care and it's cool to see your idea being made.” 

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