Northridge, Ca. – Michael Lizarraga had a dream to play major college basketball when he arrived on the Cal State Northridge campus in 2007.
But to fulfill that dream, Michael had a difficult hurdle to pass. Lizarraga was born deaf and many people scoffed at the idea that he could realize his dream. Lizarraga charged back at his critics, and pushed forward ahead.
Head coach Bobby Braswell knew that Lizarraga had the talent and dedication to play for Cal State Northridge and compete against the best basketball teams in the country.
From 2007 to 2011, Lizarraga's journey and dream became a reality. Lizarraga became the only deaf basketball player to complete on the NCAA Division I level. His truly inspirational story was highly chronicled by the national media including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and CBS Sports.
Lizarraga's success story would not have been possible without the dedicated help of Michael's interpreter, Erin Matthews, who works at the National Center on Deafness on the Cal State Northridge campus. During the past four years, Erin attended daily practices and all the games to interpret all the coaches' instructions and help Lizarraga realize his dreams.
"The one thing that truly set Michael apart was his courage, determination and passion to play the game of basketball despite being deaf," said Braswell. "And with the help of Erin Matthews, Michael realized his dream. Michael became an integral part of the team's success and Erin's valuable help and dedication helped Michael reach his dreams."
Before Tuesday night's game against San Diego Christian, Jim Macaluso from the National Center on Deafness, head coach Bobby Braswell and Michael Lizarraga will present Matthews with a certificate acknowledging her nomination for the University's Award of Merit.