Jonty Butler doesn't hear the spirit he generates, but he and his teammates see it and feel it.
"He's the most spirited kid I've ever been around," said Severna Park senior center Bert Hornyak, who credits his hearing-impaired teammate for his own improvement.
"Jonty played nose guard against me when we started scrimmaging and was so quick that he made me a very quick center. I couldn't stop him for a while."
Butler, a 17-year-old junior, wears a hearing aid on his left ear to correct a hearing problem he has had since birth. He has learned to overcome that and excel at football.
Severna Park is the only county high school with a program for the hearing impaired. Butler is one of six students in the program, but is the only one playing a fall sport. He is a backup nose guard for the Falcons.
He lives with his parents, William and Effie, and two brothers William, 20, and Danny, 14, in Pioneer City in the Severn/Fort Meade area. He spent his first two years of high school at South River in Edgewater, before the program was moved to Severna Park High.
His teacher, Cathy Levy, said: "He was enjoying it at South River, but has adjusted well at Severna Park. Jonty is in [a vocational-technical program], takes two regular classes and I'm with him in all his other classes. Things seem to be working out for him at Severna Park."
Butler says he's not sure why he decided to play football for the first time, but is glad he did.
"It's been great. My teammates and coaches treat me well, and I'm glad to be part of the team," said Butler, 5 feet 6, 135 pounds.
Butler doesn't start, but contributes his enthusiasm and spirit. "Jonty is an inspiration to the other kids, and they really respect him," coachAndy Borland said.
Andy Santoro, a senior tailback, said Butler "is incredibly strong and tough for his size."
Starting nose guard, senior Trevor Simm, appreciates his teammate's spirit.
"Jonty really gets into it during the game," Simm said. "Usually everybody gets excited during the game, but Jonty has his own way. It's kind of like he's not there, yet he is. He doesn't hang out with us, but he's one of us."
Backup junior center Chris Balasic said sometimes the guys have to try to get Butler's attention, but most of the time he gets theirs with his spirited manner.
It's a common sight during games to see Butler jumping up and down and cheering his teammates. And when he gets in, he's a nuisance to opposing linemen, eluding them to make tackles and create havoc.
Butler tapes his hearing aid on before every game so that he can keep up with everybody.
"He can't hear the audible signals on offense, so we don't play him there, but he doesn't have any problem on defense," Borland said.
"That ball moves and he's off, really quick. When we first put him at nose guard, our centers couldn't handle him he was so quick."