Katie Romano is taking her game to the international stage in search of a third gold medal.
Romano, 26who lives in Huntley, Ill., works as a package handler for FedEx Ground and is married to her wife, Casandra Cattousewill represent the United States at the 2012 Deaf World Cup, running through July 28 in Ankara, Turkey. She is the lone Chicago-area player on the team.
"I'm excited to go to Turkey and compete against other countries, [including] some new countries this year. I'm honored to be selected [for] this U.S. team, to represent our country.
"There is only goal for this event, to win the gold medal."
Romano has played soccer since she was 8, including all four years at Bartlett High School. She then played four years in collegeone year at Harper College in Palatine, and then at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., where she was the team MVP and an all-star player all three years (2005-2008).
She became a member of Deaf National Soccer Team after graduating from high school in 2004, and went to the first Deaflmypics in Melbourne, Australia, in 2005, where her team won the gold medal. At the second Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2009, she again won the gold medal.
Romano is active locally in recreational indoor soccer leagues, and played for the Chicago Force women's tackle football team last season.
"My soccer highlights are the two gold medals, in 2005 and 2009," Romano said. "I'm hoping for a third one in Turkey.
"I'm very proud to represent the U.S., because not many players have that chance. I'm playing for those players who couldn't make it on the team. The past two Deaflympics were amazing and I got to play with high-level soccer players from all over the U.S. We have lot of new, talented players this year, so I'm looking forward to play with them."
Romano is a speedy forward, known for her ability to find the back of the net.
The U.S. team plays Russia, Germany, Korea, Japan and Poland.
"Being deaf is awesome because our visual skills [on the field] are very good," Romano said. "We depend on our eyes to hear, so, during the games, we keep our eyes up and look at each other to communicate. The style of play is no different [than for] hearing people. In Deaflmypics and [the] Deaf World Cup, our referees have flags to wave if the play is called or stopped. We also put our hands up to help each other."
Romano said her road to the national deaf soccer scene started back in high school. A friend's father saw her playing and then researched the Deaf National Team. "He asked if I was interested and I said, 'Yes,'" Romano said.
He then videotaped one of Romano's games and sent it to head coach of the U.S. team.
"I got invited to training camp in June, 2004, in California, and I made it on the team," Romano said. "We usually have three or four training camps every year to prepare for the Deaflympics and the World Cup. We always have new girls coming to training camp, so everyone has to keep up their performance to keep your name on the roster."
Romano is scheduled to return to the Chicago area July 29.
"I love playing sports, but I have a new interest in Crossfit," Romano said. "I love to exercise because it's [an] important thing to do in your life. I have Crossfit to maintain my health and balance.
"This Deaf World Cup is possibly my last one and I'm ready to make other commitments. The competition will be tough, [especially] if you are not fit. Everyone has to do fitness on their own [in addition to] the training camps. I worked out everyday so I'm ready to play hard and win all the games."