It is no secret that adjusting to college life is a great challenge for many young adults. For me, having both type one diabetes and college athletics incorporated into my daily routine makes some days more difficult than others. Having just wrapped up my first year of school away from home, I have learned a lot when it comes to balancing school, sports, and type one diabetes. Some of the biggest takeaways from my freshman year experience include the importance of preparation, openness with my teammates, and being able to learn from my mistakes. Playing college field hockey with type one diabetes is no walk in the park, but it is an extremely rewarding experience that I would not trade for the world.
Throughout high school, I could always depend on my parents to help me out with all of the highs and lows that come with managing my blood sugar as an athlete. I could always count on them to remind me to pack extra snacks for my away games and to make sure that I test my blood sugar during half time. Without my mom and dad by my side at school, I must always be prepared for any situation. In my field hockey bag, I always travel with a special kit that is filled with all of my extra supplies and snacks. Although at times it can be frustrating to travel with such a heavy load and difficult to remember the small stuff, I have realized that it is much better to be overprepared and not have to worry, than to be underprepared during an emergency. When it comes to packing my bag, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Ever since I was a kid, I have been someone who loathes attention and having all eyes on me. Normally, when testing my sugars or using my insulin pump I always try to use discretion. I used to get very embarrassed because of the attention that my diabetes would bring, but being a part of a close-knit team has taught me that it is important to be open and honest about what I go through. All of my teammates and coaches always want to make sure that I am ok, and tend to check up on me if they notice that I am checking my blood sugar. Instead of becoming embarrassed by their concerns and questions, I am always honest and take the opportunity to educate about type 1 diabetes. Not only am I helping them to better understand what I go through, but I am also preparing them to be able to help me out if an emergency ever occurs! The people that I surround myself with are always there to help and support me, and I am so lucky to have such a caring team. By opening up about my diabetes I am not only benefiting myself, but also helping others to be better informed.
Similar to many other athletes, I am my own toughest critic. Not only does this apply to my athletic performance, but to the management of my type 1 as well. It is normal to get emotional when you do not perform your best and only have yourself to blame. These feelings occur when I do not play my best on the field, and when I do not have the best numbers or A1C. I have had diabetes for over 10 years and still struggle every day to do the best job possible of managing it to the best of my ability. As any college student out there knows, there is no such thing as perfection, and there will always be bumps in the road. One of the most comforting things during my times of struggle is knowing that I am not alone and have an amazing support system behind me to help. Inevitably, mistakes are going to happen and the best thing that I can do is to try and learn from them. I always remind myself to try and do better each day, on and off of the field. I never allow my diabetes to stop me from playing the sport that I love, or making the most of my college experience. It might not be easy, but with hard work and the right attitude, it is definitely possible!
Interested in reading more about this topic?