Many student athletes at Pacific University balance busy schedules filled with practices, games, work, social activities and, of course, schooling. But for some, this balancing act is amplified by a medical condition, diabetes.
“Daily struggles are just keeping my blood sugar levels where they need to be,” Kaela Collins, senior guard for the women’s basketball team said. “That is making sure they don’t drop too low or too high because it greatly affects my ability to function and participate in my sport.”
Overcoming these types of obstacles can be challenging for student athletes, but according to sophomore football player Bret Yap, having a set plan throughout the day can help students better handle their medical conditions.
“Even though taking my blood and taking a shot are a struggle, I remind myself I need to do it for my own health so I can perform at my highest level in the classroom and on the field,” Yap said. “When I am not on the field, I am reminded I am not just doing it for myself, I am also doing it for my teammates.”
Senior football player Connor Shortt, who also struggles with diabetes, encourages other students not to let their medical conditions define who they are.
“You give it the respect it deserves but ultimately you can do whatever you want,” Shortt said. “It just takes a little more planning that it would otherwise.”
Collins said the best advice she could give to others, who also struggle with a medical condition in sports, is to strengthen support systems and to listen to the needs of the body.
“For me, diabetes becomes kind of overwhelming with everything else I have got going in my life,” Collins said. “It also is kind of frustrating because it is something that many other people don’t have to deal with or worry about. Staying positive about it and having other people help you stay positive about it is crucial.”
Yap said building a relationship with trainers and coaches is vital and can help others better understand the position a medical condition puts a person in.
“Build a relationship with your coaches and athletic trainers as they are on your side,” Yap said. “Communicate with them when your blood glucose levels are high or low and remember you can’t help your team unless you help yourself first.”