Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Interpreter Erin Ratigan of Grayson uses American Sign Language to communicate with Mountain View senior running back Ty McRae during practice in Lawrenceville Wednesday. McRae was born deaf.
Three years ago Erin Ratigan was working at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology when she was picked to be an interpreter for a high school football player.
"He didn't know he was getting me and I didn't know I was getting him," Ratigan said.
Ratigan was assigned to Ty McRae, a football player at Mountain View. The 1999 Shiloh grad is responsible for interpreting what coaches and players say to McRae during classes, meetings, film sessions, camps, practices and games.
"It's been really easy just because everyone is so welcoming about it," Ratigan said. "I was really nervous to spend all my free time with coaches and high school boys, but it's been great. They are awesome to me and joke with me."
The biggest adjustment for Ratigan has been learning the X's and O's about football. Like the time she found out the football lingo for naming linebackers.
"I remember when I first started, they were talking about Sam, Mike and Will and I was like none of these boys are named Mike and Will," Ratigan said. "I was like Will, but I don't know who Will is. But now I know things I shouldn't know and I know the plays. The boys joke and I'm like this person does this and this person does this."
After two years of being around the coaching staff, it's gotten to the point where Ratigan can coach up McRae just like the rest of the staff.
"Sometimes I will say something to him before his position coach," Ratigan said. "You're supposed to go this way and they are like 'Oh, I guess you already told him.'"
McRae relies on Ratigan during practice to get information from coaches on how he's to run a play.
"She's like a regular member of our coaching staff," Mountain View head coach Doug Giacone said.
McRae and Ratigan will spend about 12 hours a day together. They are by each others side during class, team meetings and practices.
"We get along well. We don't fight," McRae said. "We get along well."
Added Ratigan: "We spend all of our time together, so we had to get used to each other. I tell him I see him more than my own family."
Ratigan has her degree in sign language interpreting from Georgia Perimeter College, but she never imagined she would use the degree to learn football one day.
"Erin, his interpreter, is a big part of the process and she really does a great job working with us and making sure he understands," Giacone said. "It's been a neat process over the two years."