Special Report: Jeff Goodwin’s Journey Through Silence: Part 1

For the past 11 years, a Houghton Lake Community Schools teacher and coach has been living without something that most of us take for granted.

Through all of it, Jeff Goodwin has still earned quite the reputation for his talents both in and out of the classroom.

When Jeff was just 19 years old, he started to lose his hearing and by the time he was 26, he was completely deaf.

But he’s never let his hearing loss define him, even on his quietest day.

“I was actually a normal hearing person all the way until 19 years old,” says Goodwin.

And then Jeff Goodwin’s life went quiet.

“I vividly remember the day at my parent’s house,” says Goodwin. “I’m in my first year of college, and I’m watching SportsCenter and I was tired so I turned the other way, just to the other side of my body, and I was like that’s really weird. The TV was really loud and now it’s not. I rolled back over and it took me like 5 or 6 times and I realized when I’m on my one side I’m not hearing.”

Leaving Jeff confused and doctors in the dark.

“For the next 4 or 5 years, it would be sudden drops in hearing, where I would be fine and then all of a sudden everything would feel really full and I wouldn’t be able to hear,” says Goodwin. “We’d go back and the test would say I had lost more hearing.”

Until one day when hearing aids weren’t enough and even the faintest sounds were gone.

“I was starting to stay up at night,” says Goodwin. “Am I going to lose my job? I have a 5 year old and an 8 year old and I rarely hear what they say.”

Jeff is a special education teacher at Houghton Lake Community Schools and a basketball and football coach.

“Having a hearing disability is maybe the biggest asset that I have as a special education teacher because like he’s one of us he’s got something that he brings to the table too,” says Goodwin.

There were times his hearing loss made it hard to communicate with his team, but he never quit.

“Fortunately I have the relationship with my players to where our personal relationship would survive that but there’s some frustration for them too,” says Goodwin.

“Once in a while when he really couldn’t hear at practice he would tell us , hey I can’t hear you guys, we have to get it done, if you need something I can pull my phone out to just type it in,” says Michael Stockman, Varsity football player.

At times, Jeff’s confidence suffered.

“A lot of times he would come to me and say that he wasn’t having a good day hearing and he was just so worried how his disability would affect our kids,” says Joe Holloway, Athletic Director at Houghton Lake High School.

But Jeff wouldn’t need to worry much longer because he was about to receive N-7 cochlear implants to restore his hearing.

“When my audiologist was like ‘hey I think you meet the qualifications’ there was no choice,” says Goodwin.

Coming up Thursday 9&10 News at 5, you’ll want to grab the tissues.

We follow Jeff and his family to the hospital where for the first time Jeff hears his son’s voice clearer than he ever has before.