Gary Hall Show Notes

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The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 13 - Gary Hall Jr.



Sam Benger

Published on Oct 28, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D all-star Gary Hall Jr. Gary competed at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games swimming for the United States, and winning 10 medals, 5 of those being gold. Gary battled past a 1999 T1D diagnosis that threatened his swimming career. Continuing to inspire Diabetics after the pool, Gary transitioned to a role in Diabetes advocacy promoting promising research and supporting efforts to find a cure. Please enjoy my conversation with Gary Hall Jr.



hi guys Sam here I'm pumped to be

sharing today's episode with you I had

the chance to sit down with Olympic gold

medalist Gary Hall junior Gary battled

past a t1d diagnosis in 1999 at which

point some doctors told him he would

never swim competitively again Gary went

on to compete at the 1996 2000 and 2004

Olympic Games representing the United

States and winning 10 medals five of

those being gold continuing to inspire

diabetics after the pool dare transition

to a role in diabetes health care and

advocacy promoting promising research in

supporting efforts to find a cure please

enjoy my conversation with Gary hollow

jr. welcome to the game plan to und


I'm your host Sam bender on this podcast

we explore the lives of athletes living

with t1d

to try to uncover what it is that allows

them to excel despite their diabetes

today on the show is my pleasure to be

joined by Gary Hall jr. Gary welcome to

the show and how are you doing today I'm

doing great thanks so much for having me

on so you know given the really the

sheer volume of your story as a as a

diabetic as an athlete in terms of what

you were able to accomplish in the pool

and also really transitioning out of the

sport of swimming and into the health

care space sort of serving as a diabetes

advocate I thought the best spot to sort

of start this interview would be your

childhood and growing up and sort of

doing some of my preliminary research I

was reading that your father Gary Hall

senior also competed in three Olympics

as a swimmer and also there was some

swimming talent in sort of your mom's

side of the family or your wife's side

of the family with an uncle and also a

maternal grandfather being you know

Olympians and national swimming champion

so when was it that you first sort of

started to see that swimming was a

passion of yours and also that you were

so sort of naturally gifted at it as

well I learned how to swim before I

could walk my aunt taught me how and she

was a successful collegiate swimmer

oh there were six siblings on my

mother's side she was one of six and

they were all successful swimmers their

father my maternal grandfather was a

collegiate champion after World War two

in the years when they didn't have the

Olympics and so I had swimming on that

side of the family my father was a

three-time Olympian he won three Olympic

medals he hid in the 1968 Mexico City

Games 72 and Munich and 76 in Montreal

after winning a bronze medal in the

hundred butterfly he hoisted me on his

shoulder I was a less than two and

carried me around the cool back for the

awards ceremony and so some would say

that I was indoctrinated into the sport

at a very young age and we grew up

swimming I am one of six the oldest of

six and we were all successful swimmers

most to a collegiate level and so you

know when we would go on family

vacations it was always too kind of a

water destination you know a lot of

snorkeling and it that's really where I

fell in love with swimming was the ocean

I was living down in South Florida and

the Florida Keys and then the Bahamas as

a youngster growing up I really fell in

love with just the element of water as a

life source more than you know a venue

to exercise a competitive spirit that

wouldn't surface until many many years

later but on my father's side he was

from a line of doctors he was a third

third generation doctor himself he took

a year off medical school to train for

and compete in the 1976 Olympic Games

and practice 25 years as an eye surgeon

in Phoenix Arizona

his father was an orthopedic surgeon

and his grandfather my great-grandfather

was a general practitioner and after I

graduated from high school my father

pulled me aside and said if you go into

medicine I'll kill you

hi he was very fed up as our health care

system everyone knows struggles in a lot

of different areas and there was a lot

of frustrations that my father

experienced that most doctors

experienced in their careers today and

so um you know I to rebel against him I

chose to go into medicine and a

completely different capacity and that

was as a patient rights advocate really

kind of trying to get diabetes research

advanced more efficiently did that for a

lot of years and his diabetes has become

such a huge problem nationwide

International diabetes focus has been a

bigger part of health care in general

and so I graduated up through the ranks

of the diabetes organizations and tilted

my way into a broader health care

delivery with these integrated

healthcare systems and so initially what

was a kind of paid athlete endorsement

spokesperson for pharmaceutical and

medical device companies turned into

patient outreach programs platforms that

would mobilize patient populations get

them enrolled in clinical trials get

better treatments out to that same

patient population and and and then also

advocate on part of youth sports you

know what kids with a chronic condition

you know how for a volunteer coach you

know how do they you know how do we

train these people how do we bring

awareness to the issues here to avoid

exclusion from sport or discouragement

after my diagnosis I was told by two

doctors that would be then my swimming

career and was able to prove them wrong

but you know

a lot of kids are you know when they

face you know asthma or type 1 diabetes

or some other chronic condition like

that you know they just get the bench or

excluded entirely so that was a passion

of mine and continues to be and yeah

working with these health care systems

to make a sport a safer more positive

experience I also work with a couple

other organizations

that's the Aspen Institute sports and

society program an incredible incredibly

thoughtful group on how to make sport

more widely accessible to not just the

privileged but the underprivileged as

well in terms of socio-economic standing

and and another group of the national

youth sport Health and Safety Institute

and I serve on the leadership board with

that organization a partnership with the

American College of Sports Medicine and

a new formed partnership with safe sport

and face board is an or the u.s. Center

for safe sport as an organization it's a

addressing abuse in youth sports

something that was negligently

overlooked for too many years so a lot

of different touch points between health

care and sport and I'm trying to bridge

those gaps kind of in a diplomatic way

at a national level certainly and I

think perhaps I definitely want to

circle back to the guiding principles

behind your advocacy work and really

what's driving what you're trying to do

because I think that's one of the more

compelling parts of your story really

but it's funny you mentioned and I want

to return to the start of your swimming

career for the time being but you

mentioned you falling in love with

swimming down off the Florida Keys and

the warm water down there snorkeling and

it's kind of funny because I feel like

that lends itself to a more sort of

leisurely pace of swimming but your

career you were a a sprinter in the pool

and when did that switch and transition

really happen to you from you know lover

of water to competitive sprinter

the pool yeah there was I must have been

about fourteen and I was at a swim meet

in Glendale Arizona on a rainy day it

was cold and I didn't really want to be

there the swim mates can last all

weekend long and I was entered in a

number of events one of them being the

200 freestyle I dove in and was swimming

and if he had asked me at that point if

I was giving on 100% I'm sure I would

have answered yes but something happened

in the middle that race and my eyes

locked with another swimmer about five

lanes over that's maybe the 50 meter

mark there was a hundred and fifty left

and something happened in my brain at

that very precise moment and that was

I'm gonna beat that guy he was the body

lengths ahead of me and I just found

another gear and started trying in a way

that I had never really tried before

that in a way that I wasn't really aware

that I had and so um a week we slugged

it out stroke for stroke and I was able

to just barely out touch them at the

last stroke of that race and it felt

great and I think it was 37th place or

something like that it wasn't for all

the glory or this was you know an arm

arms up in the air moments after that

race but that was my first real

connection with the competitive aspect

of the sport and I immediately was

attracted to it and that remained

why I endured so many countless hours of

her torturous type of training that is

required to be a world-class athlete is

that the thrill of racing and standing

up and trying to beat the person on the

black blocks next

you became really what drove me in the

sport and push me to such achievement

mmm it's pretty fascinating that you can

recall such a you know finite explicit

moment where it was like that that

moment you locking eyes with that other

competitor that was the spark that you

needed I don't think most athletes have

that moment it's more of a sort of a

vague you know this is what I want to do

this is what I'm passionate about but

what do you think can you attribute that

to anything that moment where it was

just a like a light switch sort of went

off for you well I think that like a lot

of youth I think that I had some kind of

teenage angst going and I think that a

lot of us kind of have within us a dark

energy right something that and that's

not necessarily a bad way sink more yin

yang you know kind of summer intertwined

balance of positive and negative that

you know and and so sport became such a

healthy outlet and channeling some of

that teenage angst and the frustrated

daily frustrations that we all

experienced and because such a great

outlet and so you know they talked about

a day I remember as a youth swimmer you

know encountering Olympians and I had no

thought that I was ever going to reach

that level myself one day when you know

encountering these folks for the first

time and you know they would speak about

the values of sport about instilling a

work ethic and go with payment and you

know getting back up when you get

knocked down all that good stuff and you

know I wasn't really aware that I was

absorbing that white chlorine through

those countless hours of being in the

swimming pool

very early and late hours of the day but

you know that those kind of attributes

you know are developed are honed and in

sport and you know those were realized

in that moment when that light switch

went off and yeah made me more committed

as a person not just to the sport of

swimming but an ability to do to make

that commitment and other applications

of life and so yeah all of that kind of

feeds back to where that that one moment

where the skies opened up through that

cloudy day in Glendale and and and kind

of said hey yeah there's something about

this sport thing that is appealing to me

and something that I connect with I

think that a lot of us live with that

engrained it's part of who we are and it

was one of the biggest realizations for

me that that competitive nature and and

the know we'll try to find a healthy

outlet for that was a dark energy that

that something that that that rawness

that sport triggers something's so

primitive in all of us that it's just

part of who we are and it was realized

too when I went to the Olympics in 2004

in Athens going around that city during

the on begins before and after and

seeing these incredible tributes just

sport in both art and architecture

dating back thousands of years it was uh

became very clear that you know this is

part of who we are and sports celebrates

that all of those things that Olympians

rattle on about and you were mentioning

sort of realizing for you that sports

was an outlet for sort of potentially as

you as you called it like dark energy I

think it's pretty unique for an athlete

to have the realization of sports as a

character molding Experion

and while they're still competing I

think usually for most people that

happens afterwards but you also talked

about some of the training that we're

doing as a swimmer and I'm always in all

the training in the diet that swimmers

in particular have to go through to be


I remember hearing about Michael fight

Michael Phelps eating some ungodly

amount of calories something like 12,000

calories in a day and spending upwards

of six hours in a pool can you describe

a typical day of training leading up to

those 96 Olympic Games yeah I mean

through the close to 16 years that I was

representing the United States on an

international level typically it ran

between six and eight hours a day and

that was six days weeks and yeah

anything that's physically grueling

would be included it wasn't just back

and forth in the pool we would do a lot

of cross-training dryland activity core

strength boxing work on the track and

yeah a lot of time in the weight room as

well hmm

so walk us through really going to those

first Olympic Games in Atlanta in 96 you

were just 21 years old obviously

representing your country Team USA you

know the Olympics has to be experienced

as sort of a you know culmination of

years of training pretty much your whole

career as a swimmer and then in your

specific events you have less than 60

seconds sometimes less than 30 seconds

to show the whole world sort of all of

those years of effort and experiences

swimming in that short little amount of

time what's going through your mind on

the blocks as you're standing up there

as an Olympian for the first time here

where the pressure

everyone knows yes you've invested a lot

of time and effort to get to this point

it's great responsibility representing


states of america on an international

stage you're aware that people are

cheering for you counting on you and and

so yeah that's a good thing but it's

also can create a lot of pressure and

and i think the first time out you

really come into contact with that and

nothing can prepare you but on

experience and there are a number well

most Olympic sports swimming included

nobody joins to achieve fame and fortune

you know you don't join the swim team

thinking that you've really mean is that

the odds are so stacked against you

being successful I don't care how fast

your father could swim you know those

that actually make it to that world

stage are so few and are so committed

and dedicated to the talent pool is so

deep you know among that group and so to

you know make that into that circle of

camaraderie is a tremendous honor in

itself and and and responsibilities in

itself as well but it's nice to have

other teammates that have been there

before that is a mentorship that comes

through sport experience and that's

traditionally been the way it is you

know those older athletes that may be a

little bit more aware of the impact what

the Olympic movement is to a world today

you know they help guide the the rookies

if you were through that expect

potentially overwhelming experience

certainly yeah it's funny I'm curious to

see during your Olympic pre-race routine

it's been noted that you were always

sort of a guy to watch you would shadow

box and you would also come out with

sort of like a USA Stars and Stripes

robe as opposed to the typical

you know speedo or whatever sort of

competitive gear was sort of the default

where did where did that passion and

enthusiasm sort of come from for you um

horsing around in high school that's

where it started we'd go to swim mates

um and I just yeah I was a super skinny

lanky kid no muscle tone at all as a

young swimmer even through my high

school years I was such a late bloomer I

grew three three inches after I got

college so Wow

a freshman sophomore year of high school

I was this gangly toothpick kind of

character and I'd get up behind the

blocks and stuck flexing like doing

muscle flexes like Randy Macho Man

Savage and in trash-talking in a similar

way and it was a funny thing like that

it first you notice is not meant to be

intimidating at all and as a system you

know also a realization that sport is

entertainment that we can't take

ourselves too seriously out there I've

never had a problem with that and so you

know it to help alleviate some of that

pressure that I was talking about just

earlier you know I was able to kind of

what I thought in a row bring something

kind of fun or funny

so that entailed the you know flexing

behind the blocks or shadowboxing or

whatnot some of the antics that are

involved and ultimately by the end of my

career I think people were intimidated

you know I thought it was more of a you


Moxie Simo type of something than over

and especially a lot of foreigners too

they really kind of thought it was

unpatriotic but I'll tell you another

story too about the Stars and Stripes

robe that was um as the largest fine I

believe that USA Swimming it had ever

given out at the time definitely but it

was breaking the Uniform Code for the

United States Olympic Committee sponsors

pay a lot of money

have you wear their outfit behind the

blocks and in 2004 which is when I wore

the Stars and Stripes rogue it was the

first Olympics um ER Olympics after the

terrorist attack 9/11 2001 and the

Olympics being held in Athens and its

proximity to the Middle East there was a

lot of security concerns for Team USA

that we might be a target and as a

result of these concerns it was

interesting because for the first time

Team USA uniforming wasn't so Team USA

there was nothing that identified USA on

the most of the outsets if it was

written it was written very small they

were not red white and blue they were

red white or blue and there was no USA

flag flown in the Olympic Village Wow

and you think about that yeah that that

was remarkable to me because they didn't

want to identify what buildings we were

in and so I thought okay I understand

safety concerns and everything but

that's taken a little too far this is

the biggest honor that any athlete can

have is representing the United States I

mean representing your hometown or city

or even state is a big deal but to

represent all of the United States and

not be able to wear the American flag to

me that's a little bit crazy it's going

too far so I part of it was a yeah a

protest to this policy and over concerns

for safety and and so you know a lot of

people saw that and really liked it more

people I remember the the robe than the

race yeah now it's interesting did that

rub off on any of your relay teammates

as well were they getting into some of

some of that sort of horsing around or

was it more strictly business for those

guys um

No is mostly you know horsing around

there was you know people that were in

on the joke and we were laughing about

it back at the hotel room after you know

in between prelims and finals or after

the final sessions oh yeah you know

something to joke about

I don't think anybody took it too

seriously you know then you know as I

got faster and got stronger you know

then you know I think maybe some people

you know it was distracting in that and

sport weird that you know margins are so

small so it took 21 seconds from my

safety freestyle and and 48 seconds for

a hundred meters freestyle which was my

distance event so I you know I was a

drop dead sprinting all along and we

weren't out there for very long and the

margins between first and eight plays

are hundreds sometimes tenths of a

second and so yeah and he definitely had

to be focused on the competitive aspect

like you couldn't compromise or be too

distracted with your pre-race antics

um you know went when it came time to

focus like there's no compromise on that

front and I think to something we talked

about just in terms of the difference

the differences between your two events

in the 53 and also the 4x4 by one relay

free what is sort of the difference in

terms of the preparation for those

events and also your experience as a

competitor in those I know you know I

don't have any experience swimming but

you know I played football through

college in the camaraderie and the sort

of the Brotherhood of the sport is

something that I always immensely

enjoyed what was that process like for

you as competitor on those relay teams

but also as a individual competitor at

the Olympics yeah it's funny people do

consider you know whether you're a team

or individual sport and a lot of people

regard swimming as an individual sport

but the training that is involved for

all members

a swim team I mean you go through the

equivalent of torture if any of these

practices were you know being committed

in Guantanamo the human rights activist

involved what a fleets put themselves

through to get to that elite level you

know so you know there is a

team-building experience through that

and then that is manifested in the

relays and that is where you get to step

up with some of these people that you've

trained with that you have this

connection with a bond and and be able

to rely on another which is so important

in developing on the psychology of an

athlete too is this that you know we may

at the end of the day on some races step

up on those blocks by ourselves but we

have a team a support team behind us of

the trainers strength trainers

chiropractors massage therapists

nutritionists coaches parents family and

you know we represent you know all of

them as much as we represent ourselves

at least those swimmers that are

appreciative enough to recognize that

hmm I think we that's one of the topics

that we like to sort of hammer home on

this podcast of the fact that as a an

athlete alone but especially as a

diabetic athlete there are such immense

support networks even like you mentioned

for athletes in the so-called individual

sports that empower them to excel and to

succeed so Gary the the conversation up

to this point has been Gary Hall jr. the

athlete and now I'm interested to hear

about Gary Hall jr. the diabetic athlete

and I'm always intrigued to hear how

individuals were diagnosed with t1d

relatively later in their lives I know

from my sort of background research that

14 years old is regarded by some to be

sort of an average age of diagnosis in

the t1d community

but you were diagnosed in sort of the

midst of what I imagined to be a very

regimented and demanding athletic

program where you're you know in the

pool and doing cross-training and you

mentioned boxing and running on the

track under eating certain amounts of

food at certain times all of this has to

be even more so carefully examined with

the added factor of diabetes what do you

remember from your diagnosis in 1999 and

what was the mindset that allowed you to

move past that sort of the initial doubt

and fear and darkness and go out and

compete very soon after that at the 2000

Sydney games so there's no question I

couldn't have made it back to the sport

certainly not at any elite level had it

not been for the team

with dr. Anne Peters currently at the

USC Tech School of Medicine she to me

was as important as my swim coach or my

strength trainer or anyone else that was

part of that team that was backing me

and supporting me through this pursuit

of trying to make it back to the

Olympics after a diabetes diagnosis

nobody had ever competed with type 1

diabetes at the Olympic Games prior to

Munich and you know that's breaking

through a barrier and making that

diagnosis a little less scary for you

know future generations

that's a greater accomplishment than the

Olympic gold medal so um again I just

want to give that shout-out to dr. Ann

Peters there's no way that I could have

done it without her and her team yeah

it's funny that's her name is one that

is you know every couple episodes one of

our athletes is referencing dr. Ann

Peters and you know obviously a shout

out to her for the great work that she's

doing and empowering athletes but you

personally Gary was there a certain

mindset outside of the practices that

dr. Peters and you're you know your

strength coach in your swim coach

outlined for you that personally

he allowed you to continue forward yeah

everything had to be changed is like

learning how to swim

all over again in a lot of ways what I

was able to do and what I was not able

to do at that elite level and that and

the necessary training that was involved

and you know just trying to figure out

the tricks of diabetes management

through this very strenuous endeavor the

stress the endorphins the adrenaline the

hormones that are involved in exercise

at that level had dramatic effects on my

blood sugar control so all of this while

learning what a sliding scale was and

carb counting and you know trying to

figure out how many units of insulin to

be giving myself for an English muffin

you know and making the mistakes that

you inevitably make through that

learning process

you know there were plenty of times

where I quickly had to assess that

didn't work it lets the classroom again

you know add that approach what can we

do differently and this is again you

know citing earlier those qualities that

sport instills that was something that I

was already you know engrained with as

an athlete looking for those measurable

ways to improve you know and really

assessing right like what could we have

done better there to improve and so

applying that fortitude toward an

aggressive diabetes management regime

enabled me to really kind of keep it

under tabs enough that you know I could

finally you know get myself to the

starting blocks and be able for 21

seconds or 48 seconds being able to

forget that I have diabetes I've done

everything I can to take care of it up

to this point has been in control

and you're able to just not worry about

it for the duration of the race but

immediately after the race you're

running to that diabetes kit again

because you you know to get it back

under control for your next race yeah I

know you mentioned you know being on the

blocks and being in a sport where you're

essentially a supporter like you would

be on the track you're going to undergo

so much adrenaline and we know

scientifically that cortisol will raise

your blood sugar levels was that

something that you experienced and did

you have any tips to try to go about

combating that or was it just a general

awareness of okay as soon as this race

is over I need to get some insulin on

board to try to get back into a good

range what was that experience like and

sort of learning about the effects of

adrenaline uh it was dramatic I didn't

have anyone there saying this is core to

cortisol response you know at this spike

and you know this is what's expected you

know it was a trial and error process

for me and if I remember the first times

that I got those spikes associated with

the competition at the elite level the

stress that's involved the pressure the

hormones the Dorf ins the cortisol

everything that my blood sugar would

skyrocket just in such a short period of

time and they would take a lot of hims

when to reel it back in and I had to do

it as quickly as possible and prepare me

for the next race if my blood sugar

level there was not in that target range

my performance was compromised in a

sport that's measured to the hundredths

of a second so yeah it would be life or

death and in terms of athletic

performance mmm it's funny we actually

had on our third episode Jim Edwards he

was a in his high school days he was a

swimmer that traveled all around the

world he traveled to Monaco and he would

swim on a international level and

compete but this was back in the

nineteen nineteen sixties and in his

living with t1d their game plan with his


was that prior to his hundred-meter I

forget if it was free straw

freestyle or what the stroke was but

prior to that 100-meter race he would

swim 10 100-meter laps to counteract the

cortisol response in his high blood

sugar essentially so it's very

fascinating to see how that process has

changed over time and how people are

continuing to try to deal with the

response to adrenaline but Gary you

would also go on to compete in 2004 in

Athens at age 29 which made you the

oldest US Olympic swimmer since Duke and

I'm probably going to butcher his last

name but Kahanamoku in 1924 where you

went on to win a gold and bronze medal

in the 50-meter freestyle on the 4 by

100 freestyle relay sort of after those

Oh four games and closing out your

competitive career in the pool in 2008

having won 10 Olympic medals and 5 of

those being gold is there a particular

moment a race perhaps a relay team that

stands out to you as sort of the

proudest moment of your competitive

career in the pool and winning at 29 and

and defending that title and the 50

freestyle from the Olympics prior that I

mean if there's a postcard moment of my

career is it's that and it just it felt

like the top of the mountain if you ask

me what who raised I'm most proud of is

the bronze medal and 100 freestyle in

Sydney I had no business being in that

race and that was just it guts swim

that was the bravest swim in my career

it's interesting in a sport that's tough

you know decided as you talked about

earlier by hundreds of seconds when

you're on the blocks before the race is

it one of those things where it's really

anybody's ballgame and you know when you

jump into that pool how much of that

event is it executing a gameplan and how

much a visit of that event is just pure

guts like you talked about with the

that bronze medal anyone who is in the

finals at the Olympic Games is

physically capable of winning it the

determinant at that point is between the

winner and and second players in last

place and that race is guts and and

psychological and there's a lot of

psychology and sport and you know

walking into a ready room with the

world's seven of the world's other

fastest swimmers he could always thought

maybe one or two that you know looked

nervous and you could maybe rule out a

couple but there were any number of

other elite athletes in that room that

you really kind of knew who was going to

be there if you look so to give you an

idea how close these races are the

cumulative margin of victory for the two

Olympic gold medals I had in the 50

freestyle was 1/100 of a second I tied

my friend and teammate Anthony Irvin in

2004 the gold medal to the hundredth of

a second and in 2004 to defend that

title I won by 1/100 of a second now to

give you a broader look at how small

these margins are 16 years later after

2000 when I tied Antony Ervin he makes a

comeback out of nowhere

becomes the oldest man to win an

individual Olympic gold medal by winning

the 50 freestyle in Rio at these past

Olympic Games he won by 1/100 of a

second so the cumulative margin of four

Olympic gold medals was two one

hundredths of a second if you include

both my accomplishment and his the

previous guys before I arrived on the

scene he won Olympics back to back his

name was Alex Popov a Russian so three

guys have won six Olympic medals by the

slimmest of margins over these last so

the games and so you know even though

the margins are so small it's the same

people that are consistently kind of

making the metal stand and the

difference is not in the training so

much the difference is a heart and soul

mmm it is really sort of this harsh

dichotomy where you have these guys you

know all of those competitors at that

level are putting in the training and

the work and you know the psychological

work the mindset work that you talked

about earlier and it all comes down to

you know those years of training comes

down to you know a finger tip

essentially of a difference in terms of

a reach but it certainly appears that

you know you've had some gutty

performances over the years and that

those gutted performances have been

transitioned out of the pool as well and

you were talking about your advocacy

work earlier and I'm a huge fan of your


outside the pool and you've worked with

JDRF's government relations committee

you've testified before Senate and in

2004 you even won a Humanitarian Award

what fueled for you such a decisive

switch from athlete to advocate and what

were some of your sort of goals from NAV

exceed perspective that motivated you in

this space yes well I was fortunate I

mean shortly after my diagnosis a

wonderful woman synonymous with JDRF

Karen Brownlee she reached out to me and

she told me about this event in

Washington DC where kids were going to

go visit with their representatives and

that was the first children's congress

for JDRF and i was back in 1999 and so

just a few months after being diagnosed

with no assurance at all that i could

make it back to the sport at that point

JDRF had connected with me had offered

me a network of support through the

grassroots ad because he work that a

community does so well and so I through

Karen Brownlee was yes inspired there's

no other word for

you know the work that she was doing to

advance diabetes research was that

really had an impact on me and then

obviously you know when you win an

Olympic gold medal and you have type 1

diabetes there opens the doors to a lot

of different diabetes research

organizations and so I had this

privilege back door tour of some of the

most incredible science teams in the in

the world and and that always inspired

me as much as you know I could have

hoped to inspire them you know being

able to see their commitment to diabetes

research that's a level of commitment

that I was familiar with you know in

dedicating that type of time and focus

to my swimming career and you know these

people you know ultimately will one day

cure diabetes and so cus I was really

really interested and so being able to

go around and meet with these people and

lobby on their behalf among our elected

officials in Washington DC or among you

know funders people that you know fund

this research and invest in these

companies that are developing better

products to manage diabetes and to one

day eliminated entirely just making that

connection building that network making

those connections that was something

that I enjoyed doing and I was good at

doing and using that accomplishments

board as a platform to open doors and

open ears I mean that was a something

that was so rewarded rewarding to me I

just um in was was always aware of that

responsibility that opportunity that

sudden we see to know so often I was

athletes fumble you know that they could

really inspire others and be a role

model and try to do something good and

you know and they just don't and so you

know I I embraced that opportunity when

it came up and and could have never


hated you know as a youngster on the

swim team that I'd have swimming to

thank for that opportunity and and just

wanted to make the most of it so you

know I have continued to be involved as

much as I possibly can and I'm so

passionate about it it's sometimes hard

to find the balance you know yeah I'm

gonna have to reel myself back in it's

got a couple kids and I've got to work

too so you know like I can't any longer

say yes that every request to attend

you know diabetes fundraiser or

something like that anymore

but you know I see others picking up

that torch and carrying and on and and

in the progress as a results over these

many years of advocacy work seeing

changes to policy seeing new devices

available and better medications that's

a great reward but I'm not letting up

until we have a cure absolutely I love

the mindset and Gary what for you right

now is perhaps do you think the most

promising you know either this could be

a piece of research or a you know a

product that is either out on the market

or in a you know a pipeline type of

state that has you think the potential

to really make a positive impact on the

diabetic community there is a trial

underway right now at Stanford Health

it's called the t-rex study Kirk Griffin

is involved in that and I served with

Curt on the national youth sport Health

and Safety Institute leadership board

Curt is working on this trial and yeah

it's a stem cell application where

they're taking the stem cells from the

adipose which is belly fat and

retraining the the T cells or there's

something like that you know I never had

the education to fully understand all

the research speak that goes on and

these labs and conferences that I attend

but I've been around enough to know this

one looks

really promising I'm really excited

about it I think they're about to find


results from state from the phase two

but um you know I keep my I try to keep

my finger on the pulse of what's

happening around the world on that front

particularly interested in the stem cell

research though and what that has to

offer to diabetes and in all other

diseases hmm

yeah I always like to think back to when

I was diagnosed back in 2000 you know

five years old and just how far we've

come you know in the eighteen years

since I've been diagnosed is remarkable

and then you extrapolate that forward to

think about what we'll be able to

accomplish in the next five ten fifteen

years and you consider that the rate of

growth is hopefully accelerating and not

decelerating a cure is definitely

somewhere on the horizon and hopefully

coming soon because we have people like

yourself and other people who are

promoting and advocating and working to

find a cure and to do research that

makes a difference so you've

accomplished so much in just 44 years

obviously in the pool and outside of it

what's next for Gary Halsey and you're

sort of as you continue forward and as

you mentioned navigate between family

life and the diabetes advocate role as

well one day at a time put one foot in

front of the other you get to the top of

very very very tall mountains by taking

very very small steps and you know I'm

just headed in a direction and putting

one foot in from there and we get to to

definitely definitely high places I love

the the mindset and we like to sort of

close with common question Gary if you

could send a message to a diabetic out

there that's struggling right now

perhaps they were just diagnosed or they

may just be going through a particular

rough patch what would your message be

to that person and why don't give up

don't lose hope you know you can stay on

top of managing this disease and if you

just lose hope and then stop trying for

six months or a year it ruins

everything like yeah you can get these

terrible complications there's no

walking back from and now the damage is

is this lasting so even if it's for a

short period of time look we all get

discouraged coming from a guy that has

ten Olympic medals there's plenty of

days where I don't feel like getting out

of bed but you get up anyway you strap

on your shoes and go at it and get

through it if you have to get through it

there's going to be there's better days

coming but don't give up I've seen it

happen too many times and there's enough

that can go wrong if you are tried if

you are staying on top of that and doing

everything that you're supposed to be

doing and there's enough bad days

involved through that process we all

know anybody living with type 1 diabetes

that do everything right nothing seems

to go right some days but you know deal

with that discouragement and it get get

up and and stay with it don't give up on

it absolutely couldn't endorse that

message more and Gary thank you so much

for coming on the podcast and really

truly thank you so much for being an

inspiration to the diabetic community at

large oh it's my pleasure

and you know I don't consider myself an

inspiration to the diabetes community at

large just for the record I want to

point that out you know I think that we

all have a role to play in this

remarkable community that binds us maybe

it's not that that's circumstance that

gets us here but you know we are part of

a larger group that is moving the needle

in terms of better health and wellness

in the United States day and ended one

day we'll we'll get to eradicating this

disease this horrible horrible disease

entirely from the face of the years and

I'm very much looking forward to that

day and being part of the team that

accomplishes that we're all part of that

team I'm Gary Hall jr. I have type 1

diabetes and I have a game plan


we hope you enjoyed this episode of the

game plan to indie podcast for related

content please visit

Carling Nolan Show Notes

0:02 / 39:10

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 12 - Carling Nolan



Sam Benger

Published on Oct 21, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D all-star Carling Nolan. Carling is a former LPGA Tour contender. Carling grew up with T1D while competing on the national scale for golf. She would go on to attend the Ohio State University, qualify for the Symetra Tour, and earn her spot on the LPGA Tour after winning the Golf Channel’s reality TV series, The Big Break. Tune in now to hear Carling's unique positivity and inspiring story!



hey guys Sam here bringing you another

story of diabetic and athletic success

on today's episode I was lucky enough to

be joined by type 1 diabetic and a

former LPGA Tour contender Carly Nolan

Carling attended the Ohio State

University qualified for the Symetra

Tour and earned her spot on the LPGA

after winning the Golf Channel's reality

TV series the big break please enjoy my

conversation with Carly Nolan welcome

back to the game plan to indie podcast

I'm your host Sam bender on this podcast

we explore the lives of athletes living

with t1d to try to uncover what it is

that allows them to excel despite their

diabetes today on the show I am lucky to

be joined by Carly Nolan Carling how are

you today I'm doing good thanks for

having me on Sam yeah no my pleasure so

a common place we like to start is sort

of at the point of your diagnosis story

and I don't actually have a ton of

background knowledge on your diagnosis

story so I'd love for you to kind of set

the picture and talk about when was it

you were diagnosed and sort of what that

experience was like for you sure


so I was diagnosed when I was four years

old and that was back in 1990 so I've

had type 1 for 28 years

and so I was pretty young obviously

there's a lot of things that I don't

remember but but I know that it was

something that actually my mom and dad

were concerned about for a little bit

you know I was kind of having those

symptoms of using the bathroom a lot and

being very thirsty and we actually went

in to see our pediatrician a few times

about it and he even though I had like

blood sugars around 200 he wasn't very

concerned about it for some reason I

remember him my mom saying that he said

oh I think it's fine she probably just

ate something weird and and so by the

time I actually was diagnosed I was very

very sick and obviously went to the

hospital and you know think I was quite

in DKA but I got my blood Sugar's on

pretty high so but I think that's a lot

more calm

and 28 years ago where you almost get

misdiagnosed for a little better it's

not the first thing they go to a glad to

see that people get diagnosed a little

easier now nowadays for sure mmm yeah

it's been interesting talking to the yes

just on our podcast and hearing the

different sort of stories as you were

mentioning in terms of how long it

actually took people to be diagnosed and

in some cases it's weeks before they

actually get that t1d diagnosis so it's

interesting sources how that's

transition now hopefully to better you

know faster more accurate diagnosis but

so your diagnosis of for and obviously

grew up with diabetes when was it that

and talk to us about the process of sort

of becoming more independent in terms of

your diabetes treatment I know similarly

I was diagnosed at age five and one of

the earliest memories I have in terms of

diabetes treatment was practicing shots

on an orange for whatever reason and

yeah I knew you're going to say that I

knew you're going to say that oh my gosh

everybody from our generation practice

on in Orange why we ended as a fraction

so much he wasn't too difficult to

actually give yourself an injection but

I wanted to hear yeah and sort of what

that process was like in a no you know

starting out it can be something that

when you're diagnosed that young it's

just all in your parents hands but

obviously establishing some independence

with regard to your treatment and your

management is super important so I

wanted to hear your experience on that

front absolutely I am yeah being very

young of course my mom took the lead on

a lot of things and I mean not saying

that my dad didn't he was more of a

worrier I think so my mom really um

really took really good care of me when

I was very young I did practice on

orange and sweeper to be covered it was

very intimidating for me to start

vividly remember as a kid thinking like

I didn't want to even prick my own

finger and I didn't want to get myself a

shot and I was very nervous about it and

I guess my mom had just done it for me

for so long that it just seemed like

such a big step and I think with kids

with type one they

you kind of I mean I know it means some

people may not be that big of a deal

like have to give yourself a little shot

but for me like I felt like I was like

growing up like I felt like oh no I just

want to stay a kid and I don't want to

have to do this on my own so I remember

my mom and I can't tell you how old I

was I mean I might have been like seven

eight nine I think it's been a few years

and I was still not giving myself shots

and one day my mom was like listen

you're not going to eat lunch until you

give yourself a shot like and she's an

Isis woman in the whole world too but I

just was not taking the plunge and I was

like no no no mom you just do it then

she was like you've done it in an orange

literally two million times like you

needed to do it or you're not going to

be able to eat and that was the first

time that I finally like jammed it in

there and then I was like off to the

races from there so it was kind of a

tough transition for me but I think once

she kind of just sink or swim pushed me

and I was able to kind of start taking a

little bit better care of myself you

know just as a kid like taking a little

bit of the reigns yeah I love it I know

I remember I had this like bright red

lunchbox with all my my diabetic

supplies in there so my glucose meter my

insulin vials my syringes lancets all

that stuff and I remember when I

actually really started being

independent about my care it was like

I'd sort of started my own little

business and I was a you know the CEO of

Sam's diabetes so it was a little pride

feeling that I remember having but it's

an important process to sort of go

through so you know obviously the game

plenty of any podcast were all about

diabetic athletes you know for our

audience that doesn't notice yet you

went on to becoming went on to become a

professional golfer so at what point and

did this sort of coincide with you

becoming more independent in your

diabetes treatment at what point did you

sort of discover your passion for

athletics and specifically specifically

for golf well that had kind of like a

bit of a specific story to is my father

was a wrestler so he was an all-american

wrestler at the University of Arizona

and he was an all-american he won a

couple Olympic Trials

pretty big athlete and I have a couple

older brothers and they were someone's

athletic and I'm being a little

political when I say that because they

really were not at all hope and so my

dad really wanted me to be an athlete

and I think he was even worried because

again there's 30 years ago because he

thought she going to be able to play

sports now that she has type 1 and now

we know that you know it's literally

anything is possible which is wonderful

but he thought well maybe she can be a

golfer and she can be really good at

this and it'll be easy even easier to

manage her diabetes this never works out

from her parents ever when they say I'm

just going to choose this sport for you

but my dad started taking me out to the

golf course and the range and to be

honest he got really lucky because I

really did fall in love with the sport I

really I was really good at it right

away so I think that helps as a kid when

you're a girl and you're just surrounded

by boys out on the golf course and you

beat up on all of them the best feeling

ever and so and I didn't really start

golfing right away not when I was four

or five I really we started golfing when

I was closer to eight or nine years old

and and I really I really enjoyed the

competitiveness of it and being good at

it right away and that's what kind of

Drew me to the sport it's funny you

mentioned golf being sort of easier on a

diabetic I've always found and I love to

golf sort of as a hobby non not

competitively at all but I've always

found that walking even nine holes for

whatever reason just drives my blood

Sugar's super super loud I always have

to make sure that I had come prepared

with glucose tabs and fast-acting

glucose a Gatorade whatever it may be to

sort of prevent that and I've never

experienced anything like that in

football or in training or anything like

that was that something that you

experienced early on oh yeah absolutely

and I think we did kind of figure that

out of for awhile there's a couple of

things that make it tricky is it kind of

more coincides with like a marathon

right we almost just like jogging for

four to five hours you're on a golf

course or four to five hours so it's

just a longer period

time you have to make sure you're in

range in with golf is just it's so

specific that if my blood sugars out of

range that all of a sudden I'm a really

bad golfer so that was another thing

that makes it makes it very tricky so it

turns out it wasn't always the easiest

sport which none of them are that we all

have our different problems but I

remember as a kid like through each

stage of golfing like when I was a kid I

had a way that I managed my diabetes it

was different when I was a teenager and

as a different when I was in college and

it's different when I was professional

but when I was a kid remember it was

very basic the basic was just try not to

go low so I would have my little golf

bag and I would just like fill it with

juice boxes and it was so heavy so it

was probably not even helping me not go

low so my dad and I would go out there

and we'd play golf and then I would just

drink my juice boxes when I needed them

and we didn't really focus too much on

like the highs or the trends or just

drink a juice box in murillo and we just

keep going juice box a day that's all

you need so yeah I think you know a lot

of diabetics and diabetes and general

impacts our bodies so differently for

each person what was one of the

challenges that you identified early on

that was particularly tough for you I

know you mentioned just I wanted to make

sure I didn't go low but was that then

you know going on the higher end was

that an issue for you and what were some

of the early challenges that you faced

with your diabetes yeah absolutely and

it change a little bit as I got more in

competitive I started playing that not

competitively a national scale once I

was in like seventh or eighth grades

about some things started to get a lot

more serious or I'd take make sure that

my blood Sugar's were even more on par

no pun intended but um and you know it

really did vary and the difference you

know it's hard because the golf course

is always different so sometimes it's

hot times it was cold and sometimes it

was hilly and sometimes it wasn't so so

that's when we really started trying to

take a look at more of the trends so we

would keep a log of what time i teed off

and what i ate that day and

was a temperature like and how did it

affect my blood sugar in that way

because sometimes I would get on the

first tee and I'm sure a lot of athletes

get the suit I get that adrenaline rush

so that was always a problem too you get

really excited and I always got a big

adrenaline rush I knew it because I

always hit the ball a lot further in

tournaments than I did in practice so

it's really all that adrenaline and that

really could make my blood sugar go to

high as well so so we really kind of got

more on a schedule and that's when I

started saying with clinic am in a

testiment blood sugar every three to

four holes and then make like an

adjustment if I need to so like

different things like that because you

know as an athlete it could go either

way you had to be prepared to constantly

be making adjustments and bettering

yourself yeah I think that the de-stress

and the adrenaline issue is something we

cover a lot on this podcast I'm always

interested to hear you know our athletes

coping mechanisms to deal with that I

know a guy reference a lot is Chris

Freeman who was our second episode he's

a four-time Olympic cross country skier

and he actually came up with a breathing

routine to try to combat that adrenaline

blood sugar spiking adrenaline rush and

he said he would actually do this

breathing technique and he would

actually see on a CGM his blood sugar

actually plateau and then start to come

down did you have any sort of breathing

or visualization process that you sort

of used to try to combat those nerves or

was it just a matter of being aware of

it and trying to dose properly for that

so that's interesting I think I would

have I would have been interested in

trying something like that when I was a

professional golfer but I was really

just tried to be very self aware of it

and I always had like a plan B in place

so basically if my blood sugar was off

for either reason either you know

adrenaline high or miscalculation and

dosage or maybe if it was a little bit

low I always played it a little bit safe

and I think you have room to do this in

golf because it's such a long round so

if my blood sugar was out of range for

any of those reasons I tried to hit it

you know I didn't hit any

riskier shots so maybe I would lay up on

the par 5 and not go over the water or

maybe I would aim more towards the

middle of the green instead of going for

the pin which was on the edge of the

green and if you're not a golfer I hope

you're getting all these slang things

that I'm saying but I just played more

conservatively and and I don't think

there's any problem with that and I

think some people think like oh if I

didn't have diabetes like I would feel

great all the time and I would be the

best athlete ever which is really not

the case I mean even all these other

athletes and all these other golfers

even if they don't have diabetes they

all have their own issues

you know maybe they slept weird to move

at eat something weird and not feeling

well that day everyone has points in the

round where they need to play

conservatively mine are just more

planned out and I can test for them like

right on my blood sugar machine and then

once I was in range then that's when I

really went for gold that's when I went

for the pins that's when I was more

aggressive with my shots and I knew I

had the best chance to shoot low that

way mm-hmm so it's simply just a matter

of planning and sort of being prepared I

wanted to ask you Carling about the you

mentioned you started playing on the

national scale around 7th or 8th grade

what was that that process like to be

you know playing on a scale like that at

such a young age um it was great I got I

was really really competitive when I was

a kid I think I was like my most

competitive one that was really really

young and I think this is competing you

just don't have any fear you know you

think you're the best of the whole world

so I am basically how that works is you

have like qualifying rounds like so you

would you'd be the best in like your

city and then you'd go like to like a

state tournament and then you do really

well there and then they send you to the

national tournament and then they have

something called the AJ GA the American

Junior Golf Association which is

basically like the LPGA Tour

for kids and it's actually boys and

girls would be like LPGA and PGA is it

the best of the juniors and they have a

circuit so you would and it's based

around school which is hilarious but

so over any holiday break they would

have a tournament so if you want to have

a tournament over Thanksgiving you can a

tournament over Christmas and a

tournament over Easter and you have

tournaments all summer and based on kids

school schedules so every single holiday

as a kid starting in about 7 or 8th

grade we were on the golf course playing

like I remember ordering like the turkey

and mashed potatoes like from the hotel

because it was Thanksgiving but we were

at a tournament like some other state

yeah and was it something where they

actually kept rankings and would rank

players similar similarly to how they do

on the PGA and LPGA yeah they would so

based on like in the beginning you can

only play in a couple of the tournaments

for the whole season and if you did well

in mouths then you could play in more

and then it was like kind of kinda it's

really similar to how they do it on the

PGA in LPGA Tour and I don't think

people really know how that even works

now is but if you get like in the top

three like first second or third place

then you you're exempt for the season so

you play in all of the tournaments so if

you do well there you're exempt for the

whole next season so basically you have

to play good and keep playing good to

keep playing and then if you play bad

they kind of back you off a little bit

so that's how it's it's a little bit it

can be kind of stressful as a kid you

know you don't want to have too many bad

tournaments in a row or start losing

your ranking because it's a little bit

of stress absolutely and it sounds like

you were able to continue to play at a

high level you know going on to become a

professional golfer but did you have and

do you have sort of a memory or a

certain tournament that you look back on

as perhaps one of the more fond memories

from that time I mean I have a lot of

really great memories of playing on the

National circuit and but really my

favorite tournament was in high school

so high school golf is sort of like not

quite as serious because they have this

big like national circuit and everyone

kind of plays high school golf it's just

like practice almost but it's still

really cool cuz you know people have

like the state tournament in golf and

my dad told me that if I won the state

tournament then he would buy me a car so

it was really funny because I was so

excited about it that I went out my

sophomore year and I won the state

tournament and I was only 15 like I

wasn't even all message idea he said um

but I was so pumped up about the

possibility of him buying me a car that

I won by nine strokes and which was like

a record and then the youngest person to

win in Ohio which was which was a record

two so that was really my favorite

tournament I just remember like being

really excited about and I'm sure he

bought me like this little like beater

car too so like it wasn't anything

really exciting but um it was exciting

in my book as a 15 year old

oh absolutely got to capitalize on those

opportunities so you mentioned Ohio you

went on to play college golf at Ohio

State University what was the experience

like of transitioning into college I

know this is a time for diabetics where

I think there's sort of a fork in the

road where a lot of people either choose

to embrace it and really tighten it on

treatment and dial in their treatment

more for some people puts it in the back

burner with you know peer pressure and

do different social opportunities kind

of coming to the forefront diabetes can

kind of get pushed to the side what was

your transition like and what was the

transition into playing golf at the

collegiate level

yeah and I think actually I had a little

bit of a mixture of the two to tell you

the truth when I went to college I I was

still very very into playing my best

golf and I was a really good kid in the

fact that I you know I wasn't into the

partying that much or going out but I

just really wanted to practice and go to

school and my diabetes control was just

okay in the beginning and I had some

higher a onsies in the beginnings you

know it's the first time on your own so

I definitely fell into the trap a little

bit but I really did see that it was

affecting my golf and it was really just

my first year I would say my first year

didn't play as well as I wanted to and I

really kind of came in

that maybe it was affecting my golf and

I know that kind of sounds crazy because

you think this is your life right this

is your year health so that should be

like your number one concern but for me

I was thinking oh this is making me play

bad I really need to get it together so

but I think that's really common as a

kid and I don't think it's too big of an

issue because I think once you mature

and grow up you know those things become

more important to you like health but um

but if you fight you have to find

something that motivates you and I did

so starting more of my sophomore junior

I started to embrace it more and try to

to really take better care of myself and

take it to a whole new level so I could

I could play better golf mmm

yeah I think an important process for

any diabetic is sort of and some of our

guests have smoked this before but

finding your reason for control and

especially as a diabetic athlete I think

for a lot of people that reason can be

your sport and if you don't control your

diabetes that is absolutely going to

impact your performance in your whatever

sport you may may be playing but

obviously Ohio State went well he went

on to become a professional golfer in

2008 I wanted to ask about the

qualification process of sort of heard

there are certain schools you need to

pass through just earn your spot on the

tour talk to us about that time and what

was that process like and did diabetes

sort of prepare you for any of that

adverse to your competition yeah sure um

so right after I graduated from college

I knew I wanted to be a well have to go

back a little bit because I went to

qualifying school when I was a junior in

college and I actually made it through

to be a professional before I finished

college and but before I could play my

first tournament I messed up my wrist

and I needed surgery on it so I busted

my wrist and I needed to take a look a

year off which was really devastating

for me so I got a medical leave for the

tour and then I actually ended up being

a blessing in disguise because it stayed

in school and I got my degree and then

right afterwards I was

able to start playing immediately but

but the qualifying school process and

they say school and I don't even know

why they use that term it's just a

tournament the three-stage tournament so

in the beginning you go to the first

stage of qualifying school and it's just

a normal tournament it's four days and

they say okay there's 700 girls here in

the top 150 get to make it to the next

stage and there could be like a couple

locations right so then you go to stage

two and all those people who made it to

stage two will play against each other

and they'll say okay the top 50 people

from all day will go to the final stage

and then once you go to the final stage

you play against each other and they'll

say okay the top 20 people will get

their card or their ability to play on

the LPGA and then the next 60 people

will get their car to play on the the

mini-tours which would be like the tour which is the men and the

Symetra Tour which is the women and I

started out on the Symetra Tour and

right after I graduated from college I

just I went on a pump for the first time

it was a really big deal for me and I

never really wanted a pump I was always

nervous about being attached to

something and you know the whole you

know the whole thing ma'am and I think I

was just set in my ways I had diabetes

for like 18 years that I'm like I

already know what I'm doing but people

are telling me that you can be in even

better control if you get in a lot of

pump so I did and I did really liked it

a lot and I was able to I really liked

the EM the idea of using the templates

when I was golfing because I don't even

digging back now and are no idea how I

did it on just that one lantus injection

throughout the day it's craziness

because I'm constantly changing my basal

rates now and so I was on a pump and I

was able to kind of start playing

playing professionally on the Symetra

Tour to start and that was kind of my my

big start in life there's a lot of life

changes all at once certainly and I

think that whole process just must

require a lot of you know self belief

and just a really positive mindset

you feel like that was something you

sort of had from early on and was that

in any way sort of impacted by having to

be mentally tough about your diabetes oh

yeah absolutely my I'm like weirdly

positive and I think I get that from my

family so my dad is like that as well

and I think it kinda it really does come

from the diabetes because there's so

many times in your life especially with

diabetes that things like go wrong I

mean doesn't have to be a grand but

maybe you ate something and your budget

is a little high now or your little low

or things like that so he's always we're

always talking about how like we have to

celebrate the good times too I can't

forget how good you're doing so like

whenever you test your blood sugar and

it's 120 you never think like oh man I'm

so good at this you just think like oh

yeah that's what it's supposed to be but

if it's high you're like oh I stink so

my parents always telling me like oh wow

look how good you do because good you

did so you always have to remember the

good part so I try to do that'll really

in life because I think people don't

focus on good parts of their lives I try

to do then golf so in golf you know

again there's so many bad things that

can happen to hit one ball in the lake

or you hit one ball out of bounds you

get a bogey it's good to remember like

okay now I'm good at this and a good

string of holes I'm going to get back on

track and it's very very important you

almost have to be like I said golf or

you almost have to be a little bit

insane like you almost have to like tell

yourself that everything's fine all the

segments that everything's fine I'm good

at this I can do it and that was kind of

my mentality a lot when I was on the

golf course mm-hmm yeah I think golf is

such a perfect analogy for life as a

diabetic or otherwise just because you

have to be so present and you know you

could have quadruple bogey the last hole

or you know hit a ball into the woods or

into the water hazard but it's just this

next swing that matters and it sounds

like you definitely embrace that

mentality so I wanted to talk about

another cool experience that you were

able to have with winning the Golf

Channel's big break reality TV show in

2010 what was that all about and I've

seen a few episodes of that show but

could you sort of

to some background about what that whole

experience was like yeah the big break

was a really an awesome experience for

me so what that is is it's for people

who played on the mini tours so that's

what I qualified for first in my career

I was on the Symetra Tour so it wasn't

quite on the LPGA yet it's a step below

so they take women from the out Symetra

Tour and you're on this reality TV

program and it's kind of like survivor

for golf so we were in the Caribbean and

have all these golf challenges every

single day and sometimes they're really

like not even super golf related or they

all they all are but some you know you

would hit balls over walls you try to

like break glass windows with golf balls

and like sometimes it would be like play

nine holes and things like that but

whoever did the worst every day would

get kicked off kicked off the islands

like a big dramatic thing and then

whoever made it all the way to the end

without getting kicked off was the

winner of the big break and the big

break was was it's your big break in the

LPGA you got to play on the LPGA and

Ladies European Tour and you've got

sponsors and things like that and it was

an awesome experience it was really

really hard they film an episode every

single one episode per day for two and a

half weeks straight and you would film

from like 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

like it was a whole day process and it

was difficult

diabetes wise because everything was

very secretive like you weren't you

didn't know what the challenge was going

to be and you didn't know what time

you're doing anything it was very I was

really surprised how serious it was like

it was very much like okay wait miss

room and then come out and now you guys

are going to do this challenge where you

run down the fairway and you hit the

shot you run back and I'm over here like

hold on a second I need to like put it

in the 10th day of the race and all the

same time around is Caribbean island

where they was feeding us always weird

food and like I've never had before and

I'm like so really I struggled in the

beginning with my blood Sugar's and I

almost got kicked off a couple times I

even remember this really emotional

scene where I was a butcher was high all

day and I almost got kicked

but I didn't and they made through but

they were interviewing me dan I started

to cry in front of millions of people on

TV I was like I should sorry I'm a point

shooters really bad we crying right now

I'm so embarrassed but I thought well

you know it's really kind of this

reality like we all have days and

especially I think we all know if you

have type 1 that you know if you're off

then you're emotionally physically

everything off but then I started to get

it together and I'm sorry Sam it's like

a really long story but I the details we

like to hear but what I did was I

decided like middle like a little before

middle of the show I I thought we can't

really need to take control of the

situation because right now like I don't

know our schedule it is I don't know it

was doing everyday I don't know what I'm

eating they come all over the place so I

decided like I was going to take control

so I I talked to like the chefs there

there was a TV show chef who was with us

and I said I need you to make me

grilled chicken breasts and wheat toast

and maybe makes me a bunch of it every

single day and that's all I'm going to

eat and then we're like oh well we have

all these fancy bottles all applaud I

was like no this is what I want I need

you to make it for me and so like I ate

that all the only thing I ate like for

the rest of the show from the breakfast

lunch or dinner I ate that because they

least could control that like I knew

what my carbs were and I knew how I can

least get in control that way because

everything else in my life was going to

be kind of messy so it really helped a

lot like I started having kind of better

blood Sugar's I said feeling better we

little less nervous on the show and I

started kicking you know kicking some

butt so it was great so on the show you

know with it being sort of a reality

based TV show did they try to build your

diabetes into you know the whole story

of the show and your character and how

is that sort of incorporated or was it

more just something you were dealing

with in the background I am surprised

that they didn't to tell you the truth

because you know you're right on any

reality TV show you have like everyone

has their their sing and I did talk

about having diabetes but they didn't

really push it too much on the show

about it that much although I think it

would I was open enough to say like oh

my blood Sugar's offer this or that but

my guess is them you know I don't think

people know a lot about type 1 so it's

hard for them to like talk about it or

ask questions or say anything because

they don't they probably don't know

because I think you know we're still

improving the education in this country

about like what it actually is and what

it means so I wish I had the opportunity

to talk about it more on the show but

agency you just kind of caught some

glimpses of it here there hmm that's

interesting yeah obviously you won the

show you got the big break what was that

like with sort of earning your shot at

the LPGA Tour oh it was so exciting

the only weird part was is they they

film it in February and you win it

you're on this tropical island and

nobody knows you're there and I'll tell

anybody you're going to film the big

break again it's very secretive and they

don't start filming the show until I

mean they don't start showing it on TV

until like July you have to go home and

for like five months you just like sit

there like everything normal in your

life you can't tell anybody that you won

this huge thing and so so I went home

and I just played and I said

everything's fine you know blah blah and

and then they start airing the show one

episode of the time for a couple months

and then you can finally have this big

like I want this very exciting thing and

you're like well I really want like six

months ago but still and then I got to

start my first tournament get to play on

the LPGA and in California is very

exciting right it's very nervous you

think people on tour are a little bit

you know getting getting to play on the

LPGA through the big break is a little

different than getting the players

through qualifying school I don't think

the other players quite trusted as much

like it's not as good so you almost feel

like you have to prove yourself a little

bit and so I remember kind of getting

that feeling a little bit when I was out

there but I mean everyone was really

nice but maybe it was all really in my

head too but but I remember I played

really well my first tournament it was

very exciting for me and then you show

you that opportunity came in 2010 and

you won a PGA Tour for how long after

that well I played in a few LPGA

tournaments that year and I played in

the Dubai Masters finale to your pn tour

and then and then from there I played

off and on from the Symetra and the LPGA

tournament so the golf is this big crazy

world that they have these these Monday

qualifiers you can do so if you're

playing on the Symetra Tour you could

also go to an LPGA tournament on Monday

then play against like 50 people and you

can get like the last spot on to the

LPGA so I did that for a little bit too

and serve a year I would play in a few

LPGA tournaments kind of off and on from

the Symetra Tour and I did that all the

way until 2015 another five years Wow

yeah so I was out there yeah that's

amazing and you know what a career and

looking back on you know all those

tournaments and all that hard work you

know is there a certain sort of moment

that sticks out as perhaps being a

moment you were sort of most proud of a

certain tournament win or a you know a

shot here there that sticks out in your

brief I would say it was actually that

first LPGA tournament that I played it

after winning the big break because I

was very nervous and I think even it's

funny because you can pull up some

YouTube videos of me playing in that

tournament and even the announces or

would say things like well no one really

expected her to play very well in like

success because well for a couple of

reasons because it was my very first

LPGA tournament so nobody plays good in

their first tournament but I also

remember that one specifically like it

was a very like diabetes experience as

well because I was so nervous on the

first hole that my blood sugar was so

high and I did not play good for the

first couple holes like I hit in the

trees right off the first one that was

like oh my gosh I'm losing it

and it was you know trying to play

conservatively wasn't exactly working

but then I kind of just tried to like

stay patient and keep playing and then

my blood sugar came down and I kind of

got this like rush of emotion like not

liking to bring your blood sugar up what

kind of way but like oh I think I feel

good I think I'm ready to do this and I

actually made five out of six birdies

and a like i birdied the next five out

of six holes and which is like really

good you're not a golfer and they like

got me back on track and I actually

finished in the top twenty in my very

first tournament I was really excited

about it and it was just kind of like

thought oh this is like such a good

example of like diabetes and golf right

now because I like struggle in the

beginning and then like me this huge

comeback and I was doing really well and

I got the LPGA shot of the month which

is usually one shot but I think they

used my string of five birdies in a row

it's like the big highlight so it was a

pretty exciting exciting moment for me

Wow absolutely yeah what is it what an

inspiration to other folks living out

there with t1d

it's sort of starting to wrap up Carly I

want to pass and this is sort of a

common question we like to ask if you

could send a message to a diabetic

that's struggling right now perhaps they

were just diagnosed or maybe there's

going through a rough patch right now

what would your message be to that

individual and why I think my message

would be is to find a good support

system so it's really really important

for you to know that you're not alone in

this world with type one diabetes and I

think that's what makes people not want

to take care of themselves or get

overwhelmed why the dices disease but

the more you can get involved with your

community and meet other people and talk

to other people it really really is a

big stress reliever I mean even if you

just have a bad day somebody else's

diabetes is going to understand and

they're going to be able to make you

laugh and make you feel better


keep you motivated take care of yourself

because I mean I've been living with

diabetes for 28 years and I've had my

ups and downs had great anyone sees I've

had higher a1 sees but I've noticed them

more involved I am in the community the

more people that I talk to about it the

more open I am about it the easier it is

to take care of because you don't want

to do it all on your own

yeah I think that's a hugely important

message and something we like to talk

about with our our guest on the show is

just how how important it is to fully

embrace your support to work in and not

try to shoulder the burden of diabetes

alone because I think in that situation

you're sort of asking for trouble but

Carly thank you so much for sharing your

story with the game plan to you in the

audience it's an amazing story thank you

so much for coming on the podcast oh

thank you so much Sam I really

appreciate it I am Carly Noland I have

type 1 diabetes and I have a game plan


we hope you enjoyed this episode of the

game plan to indie podcast for related

content please visit

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 13 - Gary Hall Jr.

Phil Southerland Show Notes

0:02 / 1:01:06

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 11 - Phil Southerland

1 view


Sam Benger

Published on Oct 15, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D all-star Phil Southerland. After a T1D diagnosis at just 7 moths old Phil would go on to compete as a professional cyclist, win the demanding Race Across America event, form Team Type One a professional Diabetic cycling team (now Team Novo Nordisk). Phil is also a dedicated Diabetes ambassador and philanthropist. Tune in now to hear Phil's powerful story!



what's up people Sam here with gameplan


I'm really excited to share today's

episode with you I was able to sit down

with Phil Sutherland Phil's

accomplishments are seemingly unending

so I'll list just a few here Phil is the

CEO and co-founder of team novo nordisk

formerly team type-1 a cycling and

athletic team comprised of an entirely

diabetic roster Phil was a successful

professional cyclist and part of the

victorious Race Across America cycling

team phil is a global diabetes

ambassador and philanthropist and you

can read about Phil's life in greater

detail in his autobiography not dead yet

all of these accomplishments occurred

after Phil's t1d diagnosis at just seven

months old at which point many doctors

told Phil's family that he wouldn't live

past 25 years old and that if he did

he'd suffer severe complications like

blindness clearly phil has defeated

those doubts and for that the t1d

community is and will be forever

grateful please enjoy my conversation

with Phil Sutherland


welcome to the game plan to you indie

podcast I'm your host Sam bender on this

podcast week for the lives of athletes

living with t1d

to try to uncover what it is that allows

them to excel

despite their diabetes today on the show

I am very lucky to be joined by Phil

Sutherland Phil how are you doing I'm

great Sam how are you today doing very

well so your journey as a diabetic

athlete and really as a diabetes

ambassador is so sprawling that I think

the best place to begin this

conversation is at the point of your

diagnosis and really your childhood

so as some people may know you were

diagnosed extremely early at just seven

months old so I wanted to talk to you

about growing up in Florida you were

able to overcome sort of numerous

expectations claiming that you'd be dead

by 25 years old so what was the mindset

for you from a young age that empowered

you to battle through those doubts well

you know I think the one of those I was

diagnosed in 1982 so let's put in

context there were no blood glucose

testing supplies was human insulin at

the time and my parents had to check my

glucose by squeezing urine out of my

diaper on that test strip to find out

where I was two hours four hours in

arrears so yeah it was a difficult time

for people with diabetes there it wasn't

that was a time where it wasn't if you

get complications but when you get

complications this technology was

horrible the treatment was archaic and

another never been a kid diagnosed at

seven months old before there probably

had been children at seven months of age

that had died because uh that's nearly

what happened to me but my parents got

you know the devastating news that your

kid's going to be dead by 25 and not his

blind but then they did a really good

job of isolating me from that belief I

was never allowed to use diabetes and as

an excuse my parents and once glucose

testing became available now after

probably six eight months after I was

diagnosed they started to realize that

when I was moving a lot my insulin

worked better

my numbers were better and they compared

my numbers to their numbers and said

well let's try to keep his as close to

non-diabetic as possible and exercise

has been you know a big role that since

now since I could crawl since I could

walk since I could run everything I've

ever done in life I've done it with

diabetes and sport at a young age became

a big part of my life it was swimming

football baseball basketball soccer

everything you know and a regular kid

would play and early on in the sporting

ventures I found that as my glucose was

low my glucose was too high and I didn't

perform to my best of my my capacity so

I had to develop a lot of systems early

on again and this is in the human

insulin days but my life was extremely

regimented you know I was shots at the

same time 7:00 in the morning 3:00 and

afternoon 7:00 at night 9:00 at night

every single day and then food meals

were the exact same time exercise

practice was at the same time and we

just worked my nutrition and so on

around what I was doing in sport I guess

I was blessed with a gene to want to win

I've been competitive my whole life I'm

still extremely competitive and I think

that drive to win makes the management

of diabetes easy because if you want to

win and life then you have to manage

diabetes and that's kind of that's the

attitude I've carried the whole way

through life and that's attitude we're

trying to pass on to the younger

athletes on team of an orican team type

one and so everyone's got issues but

diabetes is an issue for the most part

when you can afford your medicine your

insulin and you know with access to CGM

the sky's the limit of what's possible

with diabetes today absolutely so we'll

get into how sports sort of positively

impacted your journey as a diabetic

athlete and how it has the capacity to

do that for other people but I wanted to

get what was your and what is your

reaction now looking back on your

childhood at the state of that you

described it sort of archaic diabetes

management technology obviously today

a lot of athletes are on see GM's that

are you know reading every five minutes

what their number is and what their

blood sugar level is to their phone and

going back to what you described was a

situation at the point of your diagnosis

is it are you shocked at how you were

able to manage your diabetes despite

those challenges no I would say shocked

I mean but it's kind of I'm glad I made

it through I'm glad that I didn't do one

additional unit at some point as a kid

and died in the middle of the night you

know it's we had a lot of seizures back

then I still remember every year I'd get

the flu you know once a year every two

years and have to go in the hospital and

give that huge I enormous IV needle that

wish that that was the only thing that

scared me you know but it's just it was

I dealt with what I had to overcome at

the time and I think that's the tried to

do Gary all junior had to do it many

others did as well but when it comes to

the regimen and the discipline needed to

kind of eat the right things not stray

off the path I mean it was a great you

know lesson incredible

you know lessons and discipline at a

young age that no one else got the

privilege to have and you know I say

this as a privilege because I had great

energy ologists I had a great support

system around me with all of those

things combined it you know diabetes has

been privileged for me it could have

been far different had any one of those

pieces not been in place but uh we look

at the system back then I mean I just

remember when I was on the bike if I

were competing at all if I thought about

sugar yeah I thought what's my blood

sugar my safe and that was just to eat

you know and so it's that was my system

when I came in top ten in the national

championships as a junior top ten

national championships as an s4 and

races I lost it was my system was I

think I need'd I and I think I need a

drink drink

and there were a lot definitely a lot of

mistakes but I tried to make those

mistakes and practice versus competition

certainly and I think Phil you

highlighted a really important point I

think at the time of your diagnosis with

the technology leaps and bounds behind

what it is today you were forced to rely

on other preventative measures to

maintain a really solid blood sugar

level in exercising and having a

regimented diet do you think some of

those things are neglected today because

we have such advanced technology that be

absolutely aren't in brain I'm an

exercise and fitness and diet as much as

they should be I mean you just look it's

the type one population is living in the

same world as the rest of the world and

that means access to anything at a

moment's notice and now you know I think

one of the biggest mistakes out there is

kids think oh I are parenting my kid has

an insulin pump so they can eat anything

and let them ravage of junk food and

cokes and sneakers and you know all

stuff that's all okay in moderation but

just because you can push a button or

just because you can give an injection

and eat something doesn't mean you

should eat eat it

yeah healthy way of life is

exponentially more important for a type

1 diabetic than it is for a normal

person yeah it has immediate consequence

and I think people need with diabetes

especially I mean the holes all of

society they need to be healthier they

need to be more active we need to be

more conscious of doing the right things

from a nutritional standpoint from

exercise standpoint from health

standpoint we do all all of those than

diabetes quickly becomes I would say

easy but a lot easier to be successful

at yeah I think it's easy to fret and

worry and get anxious about you know

which which insulin pump should I use

which C GM should I use and these things

are costly and as you mentioned they're

not always easily accessible but at the

same time a diabetic can go out and walk

or cycle or run for an hour a day and

that's going to have massive impacts in

terms of stabilizing their blood sugar

and it's cost effective to

and it's much better easily accessible

so talking about the beginning of your

story as an athlete obviously a large

part of your stories intertwined with

cycling having recently just finished

your book it was really an amazing thing

to see how your passion for cycling grew

and eventually became sort of a tool

with which you could control your

diabetes and you mentioned Snickers

earlier and I thought that was kind of a

funny anecdote in the story how you'd be

cycling for a while and you'd kind of

start to feel a little bit shaky and

you're like all right I've earned that

Snickers so talk to us about how your

passion for cycling really started to

manifest yeah I mean the yeah was when I

learned to ride a bike I loved to ride a

bike and it became one of the things

that I used to get to my friend's house

to escape the house go explore the

neighborhood but when I was 12 I got to

introduce a beautiful tasty poison of

the stinkers bar and I well not a poison

it was was delicious then it's still

delicious today nothing has changed

about a sinkers bar in 24 years

but I made a candy bar at school you

know for the first time my blood sugar

when I got home was over 300 I knew that

was bad that would cause that could

cause me to go blind and so yeah I kind

of yeah and at the time with the human

insulin you know it took two hours to

kick in I twelve years old and today for

that matter I didn't have the patience

to wait for insulin to work to eat that

candy bar but I found if I rode my bike

to the gas station which was two miles

away from my house I'd stop get a

Snickers bar eat it and then go ride

until my legs hurt or so I you know and

I was either done riding or I'd stop at

another gas station get another Snickers

bar and then keep riding and it was

really I started riding Pete junk food

and then you know as time went on I was

eating junk food so that I could ride

longer and longer and it wasn't until 16

17 years old and my brother's at the

bike shop the guys who raised me

essentially you know said Phil yeah if

you want to seriously

be competitive in cycling then you gotta

quit eating that stuff and start go buy

this gel or that bar this that or the

other and my nutrition on the bike began

a shift and my focus on victory really

tightened up yes Snickers only diet can

only power you so far I mean no it was

at the time I was a kid and I want to

eat that candy bar had diabetes and I

found a way to do it and for me that was

spike that's the cool part is it yeah

and I think it's a lesson that still in

today's age it's when it's cold in the

in the winter months and I get the

chance to go on some long bike rides I

still go back to being a 12 year old kid

and eating candy bar so I can do do so

so it's just ya know I tell people

today's if you want to if you want to do

something it's all about just planning

accordingly and today's age you can do

anything you want with diabetes you just

got to have the right stuff around you

to do so so speaking on that topic of

planning and being strategic talk to us

about how you started to sort of push

the boundaries on the bike so from from

your story and from your book I

understand you started out in the month

on the mountain bike eventually

transition to a road bike but talk to us

about some of those first

really challenging races I know in the

book you mentioned you did a 12 hour

race where you were racing through the

night and then eventually all the way to

race across America but talk to us about

how you start to sort of push those

boundaries and how you manage to keep a

consistent level of blood sugar sort of

throughout that growing process good

question so I kind of always liked doing

big things that people said you know I

couldn't do now doubt has been a big

fueler of all the innovation that we've

created over the years when people said

you can't do something no I had to he

said a chip on my shoulder or whatnot

but I had to prove them wrong and that

at the 12 hour race was kind of that was

a really big moment for me because five

months prior some guys said there's no

way you can do that

and I said I'll do a 12-hour race you

can't do it and then I said let's bet

and the guy bet me a hundred bucks I

didn't have $100 but I wasn't going to

lose so it didn't matter and so I

thought that was something I decided to

do I trained probably the wrong way I

probably over trained to get ready for

it but I did the best I could with the

knowledge I had at the time and I was

able to to do that race and it was a big

race I was the first kid under 18 to

have ever done it and guys I've had a

good strategy going in from fueling

nutrition got a little jacked up I

remember seeing my blood sugar over 400

at one point in the race had to give a

unit of ensel and then I was a little

bit on the lower side the next lap so I

just hate more food but it this is a

race you could stop in the pits you know

recharge yourself take a breather for a

sec and then get back out there when I

just kept it steady the whole day and

yeah define one one guy who was a top 12

hour racer at least in the southeast at

the time he killed me then there's a

second place guy who was not so far

ahead and then on my last lap I caught

him I passed him and you know this was

put out a light racing through the

singletrack trails in Ocala Florida at

night and my light was dead so they

stopped me no one had a replacement

light for me and this kid this guy John

Morehouse came through he saw a battery

and he went out for another lap and I

watched my second place right away and I

got third but you know for me I was

devastated because I thought man I could

have been second that but then as the

next week when I went in a bike shop I

was like a superhero to those guys they

were all really proud really impressed I

validate it my belonging and in the

sport and then it was hey there's a road

race next weekend give it a try I did I

got the place I made 20 bucks which was

enough for gas for food and I had $5

left at the end which was glorious I was

like I can make money on the bike sure

why not

and then it went on I just I always

so I had to train more than the others

train harder than the others work harder

than the others and I did that went on

for four years if my coach said do three

hours I did three hours he said five

hours I did five hours you never more

never less just always you know

according to the program and I'll give

credit to the success of the discipline

I had at the time it was an unwavering

discipline a very selfish discipline

that probably didn't do much for my

social life in high school didn't do

much for anyone but me but and then

that's something I would somewhat regret

that was too self focused at the time

but it was all kind of part of the

journey and you know the bike led me to

a lot of fun it made a lot of success

and then yeah my first senior year in

college I met Joe and he became my first

friend with diabetes at 21 years old and

then that's when you know the bike began

a purpose and I'd say you know when I

met Joe when I helped him get motivated

to take control of his diabetes then all

of a sudden the bike head of true

meaning in life it was like I can use

the bike not just help myself win races

get glory or whatever it is that a kid

is searching for but I could use the

bike to help other people get motivated

to take control get other people

motivated to pursue their dreams and

hopefully and sometime we'll get to the

tool to France and unify the diabetes

world so that's that was an important

transition moment and college and then

the race cross America was just again

another crazy idea that everyone I told

out we were going to do it said no way

not possible first you can't raise the

money raised the money can't buy the

bike sponsors found the bike sponsors

can't actually compete and even you know

our sponsors at Abbott diabetes care at

the time they gave us the money to do it

they were on trials with the freestyle

navigator at the time I wish now at the

Libre and and they didn't think we could

do it so they didn't invest anything and

the PR effort

around it because they were worried we

were going to quit or not be able to

finish because of diabetes and we got

second place and they said wow you

actually did it

see yeah I said we were going to do it

they said okay we're in for more next

year we want to make it bigger we really

want the world to see and that was that

was kind of the beginning it wasn't

someone say the race across America was

the beginning of the journey but I'd say

to finish the fact that we did so well

that first year you know as a team of

diabetic athletes you know that is what

it was

yeah proof of the pudding that allowed

us to kind of set bigger goals kind of

led us to where we are today yeah I

think Sports is and as you found with

cycling such an important platform in

terms of advocacy for diabetes and just

showing what can be done but I did want

to dive into that a bit more of the

details behind Race Across America and

what were some of the highs and lows of

committing to just such an endeavor it's

a 3,000 mile relay race across the

United States and you know talk to us

about when that idea first popped into

your head and then also just some of the

the high moments and low moments of that

race yeah so the idea was actually it

was formulated at as JDRF ride to cure I

gave this is like May 18 2005 I gave my

first public speech yeah some I was

going out to do the JDRF ride occur in

Carmel California somehow I was asked to

speak to the crowd the night before I

did I told the story of Joe and i's

blood glucose competitions you know we

came in first and second in the the

charity ride and people like so what's

your Sugar's you know who's going to buy

dinner and one of us was 88 the other

was 89 I don't remember who and Plus you

know dinner was free that night but

we're sitting there having some some

celebratory beers after the ride and

someone said you guys really there's

something something to this team type

one I was five months into existence at

the time you guys got to do something

big ride your bikes across America and I

was had just graduated yeah

college I had a mountain of debt which I

had to work to pay off big and bribe I

don't have a month to ride my bike

across the country but you know the race

across America we could do that so we

agreed that night four of us that all

diabetic race team get across the

country I don't it's more research and

so there was a person team looked at the

records I think thought we can beat that

and we set out to do so the original two

of the four who over beers agreed you

know unfortunately had to which all

themselves then what about I got some

press yeah buddy chair Gruber is now one

of the cycling's best well-known

photographers now he wrote a piece and

PES cycling news for me back in may of

2005 and I got contacted by what do you

know six other type-1 athletes who had

interests to do the race across America

so put the team together and that was

the easy part

then phase two was the bike sponsorship

and that was just I was 23 years old at

this enter bike conference and if people

in the diabetes world are listening it's

like the a da or the EAS D going on

right now of cycling and I went out

there and a suit a tie

120 proposals and I walked around the

entire tradeshow looking for sponsorship

now 99% of people said yes we'd be

delighted to sponsor 98% of people did

not return my phone calls or emails the

following week but it was all part of

the journey and we then we ended up by

December I'd lock down cycling sponsors

I'd lock down helmets glasses clothing

partnership from the Weather Channel

documentary channel for this Race Across

America but we still had no money and I

was on a navigator trial with my doctor

Bruce bode and I said Bruce this is what

we need to race across the country

successfully it was the first time it

had CGM data during exercise in all my

life and I learned more and the first

two days on a CGM about my diabetes and

I've learned in 24 years it just blew my


was happening to my sugar on a daily

minute-by-minute basis and yeah it

enabled me to get a whole lot better a

lot of pasture and I said we have to

have this so Bruce called Holly colt

who's you know still Holly mogera now

dear friend I met her and her husband

Jeff after making a big pitch at Abbott

and there were a lot of heads nodding

but it was a product that was not yet

FDA approved they had no launch

well they had a launch plan but approval

had to happen and Holly gave me the

tough news at dinner that it was going

to be like finding a needle in a

haystack to get the money mobilized at

this point in a year and she said but

Jeff and I have done very well in our

lives and we feel this is important so

if we can't find the money within the

company then we'll write you a personal

check and you could just need to happen

for people diabetes and I cried at the

dinner table that night when she told me

yeah I was like I booked everyone the

team I said guess what we have the money

and and that was that the training began

and then we had a with the eight riders

and then we over crew to ourselves the

first year and we had 36 volunteers 36

people who gave up ten days in the

summer time to come go 23 miles an hour

across the country and you know it was

huge thanks to all of them family

friends just random volunteers showed up

to help us make this dream come true it

was a little bit too many people we were

chaotic we'd never done this before so

there were ton of mistakes made but it

was it was just a priceless experience

that I'll never forget and something I

think doing that for the first time was

just such a major win for people with

diabetes all over the world nobody we

didn't have social media back then it

was a word of mouth kind of thing but

the word had begun to spread and I think

that then empowered a lot of other

diabetes organizations to start people

with diabetes to begin at start advocacy

organizations and team type-1 doing that

in 2006 just

change the world of diabetes forever and

I'm proud of my teammates for of which

we still stay in touch for which

unfortunately there was a divide and the

team that first year and I regret that I

not in touch with the other four on a

regular basis because they were part of

that change for sure

it's an amazing accomplishment and I

wanted to ask you it almost sounds like

there was a race across America just to

get the team funded and get the team

together was there it almost appears

that the race was almost an afterthought

at that point what was it like finally

getting on the bike after all of the

hard work that went into setting up the

team and getting it funded I mean III

remember the very first poll that I got

to do for the team and you know it was

it was hard the first moment of the race

at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and it was

a four-mile con I got stung by B my head

or my somewhere on my women my helmet

stung stung me but my RA was 175 beats a

minute and we said 3,000 miles ago

it was so it was miserable that first

climb it was a miserable start to the

race but then I got in a van and and

that's what race across America was it

was you go ride your bike as hard as you

can for 15 minutes then you get in a van

and your friends make fun of you you

make fun of your friends and then it's

just and copy paste for eight hours then

you get off and it's a different set of

people making fun of you giving you food

taking care of you nutrition sleep all

that stuff then wake up some point in

the middle of night and then get back on

bike do it again and we have this repeat

itself over and over and over for five

days 16 hours and 4 minutes that first

year but it was yeah it was a difficult

start but yeah I mean I was the fact

that we were starting the race 14 type-1

was it was a dream come true it hurt

like hell but it was a dream in the


certainly worth all the pain I think

what's perhaps even more compelling than

just a pure physical exertion is sort of

the guiding vision behind the founding

of team type-1 as you mentioned Joe

Eldridge was a co-founder in that

initiative but I thought a really cool

anecdote from your book not dead yet was

when you were doing fundraising while

you were still at University of Georgia

I believe and you were at a Starbucks I

could be getting some of the details

wrong especially you were asked what

would you do if you had four hundred

dollars right now and you were able to

speak sort of concisely and to the point

about what what the guiding vision of

team type-1 would would be and what you

guys would do as a platform for advocacy

for inspiration for other type one

diabetics talk to us about what that

experience was like and what the really

driving vision for team type one was and

is yeah I remember that day like it was

yesterday was February 22nd 2005 I'm

actually in my office looking at the

framed picture of those four Ben

Franklin's that I always keep in my


that's um and I was part of the survey

team type-1 was still in the idea mode

at that that time but I had to go out as

part of a business plan class project

for my management class and ask people

if this company existed would you buy

the product would you invest in it would

you support it that I had asked at least

10 people and I've gotten some yeses

from we support gator f know we support

cancer organizations know we support you

know Christ you know please you know

just you know so I got a mixed bag of

reactions of what people like to be a

part of team type-1 well then I spent 15

minutes talking to a business professor

from he taught MBA students at

University of Michigan who happened to

be at that Starbucks malla Georgia on in

February and then I came to this guy who

was the last one I'd expect to be a


jeans a t-shirt glasses smoking a

cigarette coffee in one hand and a small

gap in his teeth bald balding him head

and I said and I explained you know

we're going to use the bike as a

platform we're going to inspire people

diabetes to take better control we want

to try to unify the diabetes community

through sport and then ensure that we

can all have equal access to medicine

going forward and the guy said there's

something to this what would you do with

$400 and at the time I was working my

way through school and racing selling

t-shirts and business cards I was you

know the vice president of marketing

which is a really cool business card to

have in college but as the vp of

marketing for LS designs and I said well

if I had 400 bucks

i buy hundred t-shirts and I buy

business cards too with that I have a

website on it and use those as you know

to start the awareness campaign and the

guy took out 400 bucks he said go start

your company kid and I can't take money

this is a class project it's not not

officially looking for investors at this

point he said and he said you need to

start this you need to start it now and

put four 400 bucks put his coffee cup on

top he said go start your business now

or someone else and have a good day at

Starbucks so I took the money we

exchanged contact info Daniel Hopkins

was his name I got his email D Hopkins

at Bell South dotnet got his phone

number he got mine life went on so I

drove straight from there Starbucks to

Bank of America my bankers name was

Harry pink oh I don't know anyone's name

now but yeah I remember my banker from

February 22nd 2005 Harry Banco at 350 I

walked in the bank by 4:15 the bank had

closed but he got my account started

with team type-1 I drove straight to my

office I said I need a hundred t-shirts

Jane Meredith was her name she did the

designs and my boss mark Polansky

you know agreed to give us the shirts at

three bucks a pop and business cards at

50 so after tax

on day 1 of operations I'd raise $400

I'd spent 387 and I was hoping these

t-shirts look good so I could keep the

company going

so that was yeah it was just again I

knew people needed help

yeah I didn't know what type of help I

had no idea what the challenges on a

global scale were but I knew from the

few people I met with and spoke with

diabetes that people were lacking heroes

they were lacking a daily dose of

inspiration and a lot of them were

struggling to afford the medicine so we

needed to we need to change and there

was just there wasn't a anything

diabetes was at that time was doom and

gloom now you're going to go blind from

diabetes you're going to you can't do

this you can't do that there was no one

kind of leading the charge of what you

can and what you what you can do and how

big you can do it with diabetes and

that's that's all I wanted at the time I

wanted to use the bike as a platform to

help people realize they could and it's

you know I confess that it's chrome far

outgrown my wildest expectations this 23

year old but I've got a lot more

expectations that now today that I hope

we can wildly outgrow some years down

the road I think it's so refreshing to

see a story like that were you know just

random good happens to good care so all

right so here's the cool part the best

part about that not the best so you know

being a good steward at the time I sent

actually I think Dan Watkins an email to

say thank you well bad email bounced

back and I sent every version of Daniel

Hopkins that built out that there could

be never got through called the phone

number he gave me and it was like you

remember that good number to do do do do

this number does not exist please hang

up and try again yeah I think in huh I

got I wouldn't got in Atlanta phonebook

because he said he did construction in

Atlanta I looked up every Daniel Hopkins

I called every single one of them never

never found the guy until Daniel Hopkins

is this the essence of an angel investor

I mean this guy is an angel investor

I've never been able to find him

and I'd love to say thanks because he

was right it did I did need that

investment at the time and a lot of good

is you know we braised it'll be a

hundred million will hit this year since

that moment he gave me those first four

hundred dollars Wow and he probably had

to disguise on too because that's pure

altruism you know it was Wow

it was I'm so yeah I remember those

moments vividly like it was yesterday

and I'm very grateful that we we had

that better lucky than good good

sometimes right and right place right

time and just happen work out so Phil

you mentioned $400 to now cutting up on

a hundred million in funds raised for


what has it been like seeing the

evolution of this team of this vision of

this dream and as you mentioned growing

it to team novo nordisk where you have

cyclist triathletes and runners as well

now all performing sort of under that

uniting force of t1d and showing people

what can be done with t1d well a lot of

changes no that's remain the same

there's still still a vision to change

the world still vision to unite people

with diabetes a little older which comes

with experience but also can Jade your

mind a little bit if I I love having

these conversations where you bring me

back to when it started because I look

to when it started it was I was a kid

who was going to do it and it was going

to do it because it had to be done it

was the right thing for people diabetes

and you know I need reminders of that

from time to time to bring it back to

day one just to have that attitude of it

needs to happen so we have to do it

doesn't matter what anyone says doesn't

matter what the circumstances are it's

got to be done and you know so I look to

you know we won bike races first it was

wasting across America which people said

we couldn't do then it was winning the

race across America which year one to

year two you know year one we were the

charity case of the race people saying

congratulations good luck we love what

you're doing for charity and I was

saying well we're here

when and people kind of patted me on the

shoulder saying oh that's that's nice

young man that's really good I'm

congratulations on being so optimistic

but no one has ever seen a diabetic do

an event like this let alone a team of

diabetics so fast forward to the second

year we show up and everyone was scared

- the diabetic team right it was they

were afraid of us because we were there

to win and when we did - we're gonna

race on a professional level

yeah that's impossible and then we did

it and then people were scared of the

diabetic team team type 1 - then from

2012 where we were the 25th ranked team

in the world we were the diabetes team

according to all professional cycling on

the verge of Giro d'Italia - response

imitations which is going to globalize

hope for people with diabetes - the

chance to partner with nova notice can

create an all diabetic team go back to

our roots as yak-yak have said to me

back then and we did and then people

said there's no way and all diabetic

team can compete and mind you it was a

big struggle to do so at first but we've

now become fierce competitors in the

dalton and every race we do around the

world and in the on the in between we've

change i met my wife in macedonia

she changed the diabetes policy in a

matter of months working for the

Ministry of Health and insured every

type one diabetic at 6 to 15 test trips

today basil was insulin insulin pumps

covered 100% by the government it's to

think that you know I just this little

country of Macedonia which struggles

financially but they put up the funds

and the fight for their people to ensure

they had the best-in-class insulin with

not one cent of copay to the people we

needed it's a country that takes care of

the people you know to helping them

Rwanda and other developing countries

around the world where we've ensured

people have access to glucose testing

and governments who are invested at

least emotionally in diabetes for the

first time seem now having world leaders

see people with diabetes as champions

means that were we can be work capable

population and a population worth

investing in a healthy diabetic

is a powerful citizen because they can

do so much more than so many others but

a diabetic without in access tends one

without access to glucose testing

supplies or see GM's

now we can we can be troublemakers and

no one will ever understand what how

hard it is to live a life where you

don't can barely afford your insulin

keep where you can barely afford oxygen

and in this day and age that's becoming

a big problem and it's something we have

to work with the companies to change so

I don't know it's it's been a great

journey to grow our platform to grow our

voice and we we solved for the problem

that needed to be solved for back then

which was we need heroes and team type-1

I give 100 college scholarships now to

n-c-double-a a fleet suite type-1 trying

to generate that next group of change

agents that's part of my hero factory

over there we've got the hero factory a

team of a Nordisk with our development

team our professional team just ensuring

that no matter where you are in the

world when you get diagnosed with

diabetes or if you have diabetes and

need a hero you've got one and our

athletes but now there's a different

problem that needs salt or and that's

accessibility to insulin that's

supported yeah accessibility to the n

phone you want for a price that you can

afford and that's different for

everybody and that's kind of the the new

challenge of the day and it's one that

has to be solved for and that's that's

my next challenge to tackle so I think

yeah it's you ask me about life with

diabetes back way back when on the

archaic insulins and I think what I said

then was I did the best that I could

with what I had at the time and I think

now I have to apply that to where we are

as a business and a company now it's

what is the greatest need what is the

biggest challenge that's going to

benefit the most people with diabetes

and how do we solve to that and so it's

it's great to be able to think in much

broader stroke pictures that can have

far more reaching impact than we were

able to at the beginning the beginning

it was one change in the lives for

people diabetes one person at a time one

handshake at a time one conversation at

a time and now we can just do things on

we still have that grassroots impact

amongst all of our different athletes

all over the world

but we can also have broader reaching

governmental changes governmental

changes that can impact populations at a

time and that's that's a cool feeling

but it also yeah I know what the

problems are out there I know how we can

solve for them it's about bringing

people together to solve to them so

people with diabetes can live better

lives can live more empowered lights and

then still be inspired to to dream big

certainly and I think what's perhaps a

really interesting observation is sort

of a commonality in your identity where

you're always trying to push to sort of

that next you're kind of pushing the

envelope on the bike from a young age

and then with racing across America and

just continually setting goals now from

an advocacy and diabetes ambassadors

standpoint that are again sort of within

that common thread of always pushing the

envelope and I did want to talk you

addressed it already but in perhaps a

little bit more detail about some of the

ambassador work you're doing abroad you

mentioned Rwanda what was the process

like in trying to improve accessibility

to insulin and glucose meters in Rwanda

and what was sort of the driving vision

for that project and 2009 I went to my

first EAS D which is the European

biggest European diabetes conference

17,000 people were in Vienna and I was

trying to get team type-1 launched into

Europe saying us we can just inspire

people educate people empower people

with diabetes to take control and then

the president of the IDF at the time

Martin splenic I approached him and I

said hey here's what we're doing he goes

did you know that for 10 million dollars

we could ensure every personal diabetes

in the world had insulin I said they

don't and you know I was just this naive

kid coming from America where

everything's great all the time and he

said yeah people are dying because they

don't have access to medicine I said huh

and he's I said but I checked 20 times a

day I get 10 injections day every day

said yep but there's many in the world

who don't many in the world who don't

make it average life expectancy for a

kid with diabetes and

developing countries seven months and I

said excuse me

you know I guess what was I 27 at the

time I said I've looked 27 years no

complications he goes yeah but for most

of the world that's not the case and

that really that became a hyper focus of

mine I went on a two-week backpacking

trip in Europe by myself just hopping on

train stand in hostels you know

exploring Europe but all I could think

about was you know there's kids dying

because they don't have access to

insulin this is BS it's got to change

and two months later I'm in Montreal

another at IDF Congress I medicate

Francois G shoma

from Rwanda and I said Francois I've

heard about this

- of Rwanda bike race and we'd really

I'd like to bring you know a diabetic

team to come compete could we work with

you on that he said oh yes it'd be nice

very inspiring for my patients I said to

struggle with access for testing

supplies they said yes and I said what

if I could bring blood glucose testing

supplies for all your people in your

clinic and bring whatever supplies we

could you know bring together to give to

you and Francois was in his late 50s at

the time got on his hands and knees with

tears and I said please come my my

children need you my children need you

and so that's you know seeing that need

just for me was inspiring it's like okay

we can we can help so I brought 400

blood glucose meters 37,000 test strips

hodgepodge other stuff I nearly bankrupt

team type one and 2010 to do this trip

but I knew it needed to be done we

finished that year with 420 dollars in

the bank account and I hadn't taken a

paycheck in two months because we had to

make ends meet but going there the first

time and seeing that these kids wanted

to take control their diabetes but all

the diabetics in the country at the

stomach growth you know they were had a

one sees over 14 over 14 over 14

because there they had access tensile in

some months not other months none of

them had blood glucose meters now I'm

giving out these meters the kids and the

families and the kids are happy because

they have a toy and that's cool

especially in developing world but the

parents had tears in their eyes because

for the first time in their lives they

believed that their children could live

and I knew we had it had to change this

mindset and you know once you go then

you can't not go a second time I

realized that wow these when you do the

math it's like 37,000 test trips it

sounds like a lot but when you're

talking about 400 people it's not really

it's not going to last that long so I

found ways to for the next year I

smuggled in in bike boxes another

quarter million test strips and then

being a mizune go which is what they

call the white man and in Rwanda I've

been a mizune go I've quickly worked my

way to the permanent secretary of the

Ministry of Health that's the number two

position essentially and she said I want

to take care of diabetics but I have no

money you know and I said then she said

the prices are too high and I don't have

money for diabetes that's what I saw

wait this is crazy here she wants to

help but it's just public resource

that's preventing her from helping

people with diabetes and I kept pushing

her and kept pushing her the next year I

met my wife as I said Bill Jana

Sutherland but Billy onigiri Giada at

the time who was leading the national

program for diabetes in Macedonia that's

all how quickly a motivated person in

government could change the landscape

for a country and then I introduced

Liana to on us and Rwanda and quickly

those two formed out a Memorandum of

Understanding we made an official team

type one was now a partner of the

government and we went on to become the

official blood glucose supplier for the

country and you know that's still the

case today but honest began to become

motivated for diabetes

we helped bring funding into the country

through the world Diabetes Foundation

and now there's diabetes healthcare

infrastructure for the entire country of

Rwanda we've got the minister health

focus on the disease

fighting for resource so that she can

have money to care for people and fun is

on the formulator for the government

insurance which means it's there's now

affordable insulin for every personal

diabetes in Rwanda and we're getting

blood glucose monitoring supplies added

to the formulary as well so you know for

me it's you know it feels great but it's

it's taken eight years of effort

countless trips the country and

advocating all of the world to make this

happen and I'm super proud that it's

been done but I know it could have all

been done quicker if there was just

public money available for diabetes for

the NCDs as they're called you know

because we're one of the big four NCDs

diabetes cancer cardiac and then

pulmonary you know one something or


you know those diseases account for a

large portion of the deaths from disease

in the world yet there's about 240

million public funding a year for those

diseases in the developing world that's


you just in Rwanda there's 22 million

dollars from PEPFAR allocated to HIV

tuberculosis and malaria but zero for

diabetes and it says there's you know

you can look at it from two ways there's

one there's big problems when it comes

to diabetes on a global basis you know

America is the new Africa when it comes

to insulin and affordability but it's

also a big opportunity to create change

that's going to make the lives of people

diabetes better and I don't look at

problems as problems I look at them as

opportunities for solutions and we need

a lot more solutions on a global scale

before we truly see the power of people

with diabetes you know on a continual

basis because right now it's yeah it's

just it's a tough world out there things

need to change because there's great

medicine there's great influence out


the continuous monitors are phenomenal

you know when you have these tools life

with diabetes is it's just life but when

any one of these tools goes missing then

you know diabetes can begin to rear its

ugly head as a pain in the ass again and

we want to stop that from happening


one in the world on a sustainable basis

yeah I think perhaps one of the more

tragic things as you touched on is the

fact that we have a discrepancy in terms

of care in the United States where we

have people on CE GM's and it's really

you know a life where you're not going

to expect to encounter major

complications but then you go across the

pond you go to you know sub-saharan

Africa you go to India you go to places

in the developing world and as you

mentioned you know this is my death

sentence in type 1 diabetes we have that

care available and it's just a matter of

you know the economic cost of bringing

those drugs into place and bring the

supplies into place it's really a

situation that requires change leaders

like yourself and teemed of a Nordisk

so we thank you for for that effort and

on that front in in terms of building

further advocacy and awareness regarding

diabetes care what's next for team novo

nordisk I know you mentioned hopefully

getting to the Tour de France what are

some of the the next major things coming

up for Team Novo Nordisk

yeah I mean they're yeah the next the

team is racing this week in Germany we

go next week we're in China you know

we're going to continue our you know

advocacy via success and sport when

continual basis from my situation you

know we're looking also we're launching

a research partnership with novo nordisk

so we're going to begin to be a bit more

intelligent with how we collect our data

of the athletes while they're training

while they're racing and you know see if

we can now we've got a really superb

medical team like micro Dell which brac

and miles Fisher Bruce bode more

Christians and see I think might be it

and then the team of analysts medical

staff all working together to see how

can we begin publicize papers of what we

do how we do so that we can better

educate every health care professional

the world to me you know be better

advisors to their patients to the people

with diabetes who want to go out there

and do their first their first run their

first bike ride their first bout of

exercise because they're still you know

I'm looking in my office now at a

picture of our professional team from

last year 16 of 18 of those guys were

told they'd never raced the bike again

because of diabetes receiving 12 of the

18 not 16 12 of the 18 we're told not to

race bikes Neela so there's still

doctors out there in the world who are

telling patients people with diabetes

upon diagnosis that they can't pursue

their dreams fortunately a lot of us

diabetics my wife will vouch for this

are very stubborn and yeah when you when

you want something yeah you're going to

fight for diabetes or not and I think

diabetes only chooses the champions but

these athletes didn't listen to their

initial doctors warnings and they

pursued cycling and I've been able to

reach it to the professional level

our junior team now not one of those

kids who's told they could never race

again in fact most of them had showed

their diagnosing doctor team over notice

before they left the hospital which is

to me is really really cool that the

darkest day can be the brightest day for

people now nowadays thanks to our social

social media presence so you know we

have to you know I think getting all

this research out and getting the data

the show just how physically talented

people with diabetes can be should be a

big inspiration to the healthcare

professional community out there so they

can then know it from a factual

standpoint from a it's in a white paper

some research journal somewhere and when

it's there that means it's also it can

reach patients out there

I want I'd like it so that whenever the

next generation the newly diagnosed are

diagnosed that they immediately know

that they can go out and pursue their

dreams because the diagnosis day for so

many people has been so hard so

difficult you know it is so difficult no

matter what but it can also be inspiring

and I want that diagnosis day for

everyone going forward to be one of

those inspiring days to where they know

that they're part of the

coolest team out there that's teamed up

a notice and the more research we get

out the more data we get publicized the

more press that we get the more noise

that we make the faster the world is

going to realize that people with

diabetes are champions that people with

diabetes deserve to be invested in and

then we can fast track getting access to

the best tools technology and influence

to the people who need it and that's

people with diabetes because the tools

are out there for every person the world

with diabetes to be the greatest

champion they want to be so we got to

ensure that they get those tools and

then they go out living every day as


not just to manage diabetes but to

manage their life their dreams their

goals their aspirations and then take

care of the diabetes and the background

on a continual basis because it's when

you take care of it when you dream big

you do amazing things but when when

those pieces are missing then diabetes

can be hard and we want to well you know

it's I'm not gonna lie it's not it's not

an easy to tease you know it's always

there it's always with you I probably

check my blood sugar BMI see my decks

come here four times during the

interview that we've done during this

podcast you know and that's I didn't

have to prick finger so if that's the

life that I should live and that's the

life that every person with diabetes

should live and I want to make that want

to make that the case

everyone needs to aim and dream big and

if we all do together if we all unify

together then this diabetes voice here

in the US yeah round the world together

collectively we can ensure that every

brother and sister we have with diabetes

in every corner of the world is unified

in the tools that we have to live great

lives with diabetes and until that's

done you know I will always have work to

do and I really feel that the team you

know getting to the Tour de France is

what will enable that global unification

for people with diabetes that's what

will enable you know our voice to be the

loudest it's ever been and when we can

have the microphone to the world we're

going to talk about the vital need of


affordable access to the best

medications out there because that's

what makes dreams come true and

consequently it's also what can kill

dreams if they don't have it and we want

to we want to be the enabler of dreams

and every corner of the world I love the

message I love the driving force behind

everything as they're trying to do and

starting to wrap up fill outside of

ensuring access to the technology and

medicine that will empower the hopes and

dreams of other people living with t1d

we like to ask sort of a common closing

question perhaps there was a person who

has just recently diagnosed or someone

who's been living with t1d that's going

through a particular patch what would

your message be to that individual and

why I'd encourage you to find a reason

to take control now it's you know what

what is it in life that you want to do

what is it you want to be a good parent

do you want to be a good grandparent one

day do you want to run your first 5k do

you want to ride your first you know 100

mile ride whatever is out there and like

that you want to achieve and then

realize that taking good control of your

diabetes is going to enable that to

happen so once you find the light switch

and turn it on and walk through that

door saying that I'm going to take

control once you walk through that door

then you're there all you have to do is

want to do it and then take the steps

needed to do it but you got to find the

reason behind it and for me the reason

was to be a good athlete now today the

reason is I want to be you know I've got

two children and not two boys another

that's going to be here any day now and

I want to be around to see their their

children grow up I want to be a

grandfather and I want to be around for

all of my kids first steps all my kids

first races first competitions and for

me I know that taking good control my

diabetes is what's can enable those

dreams to come true

so for Joe he wanted to beat me and

bleed oh betting he wanted me to pay for

his dinner one night so it's all about

what is what's going to help you get


to take control and find that it could

be it can be something simple like a

sink or a bar or it could be something

complex like you know washing your

grandkids grow up one day or being the

Supreme Court justice like justice

Sotomayor or you know running the

country like Theresa made us you know

it's in the UK you know any any dream as

possible but no no dream with diabetes

as possible unless you take control so

find that find your dream whatever it

might be and then check your blood for a

few more times little tighter and your

diet get out there exercise take those

small steps to make the dream come true

and enjoy life because if you have

diabetes you're in the champions club

you're in the cool kids club and you're

on the best team in the world and we're

proud to have you as one of us I really

love to say that it you know granted you

you approach it the right way and adopt

the right mindset t1d can be an absolute

blessing in disguise and I think Phil

you're a classic example of that and it

really is a unique community that you

get to be a part of with t1d so close it

up there I know you're a busy guy and we

wanted to thank you again as an

organization as gameplan t1d for all of

the work you're doing here and abroad to

improve the lives of diabetics and be an

inspiration for people living with t1d

so Phil thank you so much for coming on

the podcast yeah Sam thank you so much

for having me look forward to sharing it

with our community and now keep up the

great work because you you're you are

helping getting inspiring voices to

people we need to hear it and I think

you're doing great work I'm proud to

have you as part of the team as well my

name is Phil Sutherland I had type 1

diabetes and like all the champions here

before me I too have a game plan


we hope you enjoyed this episode of the

game plan to indie podcast for related

content please visit

Billy Fredrick Show Notes

0:00 / 39:18

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 10 Billy Fredrick

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Sam Benger

Published on Oct 7, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D athlete Billy Fredrick. After his diagnosis of T1D, Billy went on to play baseball for UC Santa Barbara in the College World Series. In addition to Diabetes, Billy is also a cancer survivor. His story is one of unwavering resilience and is sure to provide inspiration to all listeners. Tune in now!



hey guys Sam here with game playing to

you Andy I'm really excited because this

is episode number 10 for us we finally

cracked double digits and it doesn't

seem like much but I'm proud of the

platform so far and I'm so grateful to

all our guests and everyone who helped

us get to where we are today that being

said there's plenty more work to do to

ensure that we continue to bring you

guys stories of inspiration and insight

and success over adversity today's

episode we're coming to you with a

moving story of positivity and

resiliency Billy frederick who recently

graduated from UC santa barbara played

baseball in the College World Series

Billy is continuing his athletic

endeavors after college with some new

and exciting challenges which we will

discuss in the episode in addition to

t1d Billy is a cancer survivor

his relentless spirit was incredibly

powerful to hear it was a pleasure

getting a chance to speak with him

please enjoy my conversation with Billy

Frederick all right

well with that welcome to the game plan

to und podcast

I'm your host Sam bender on the game

plan to und podcast we explore the lives

of successful athletes and performers

living with t1d to try to uncover what

it is that allows them to excel despite

their diabetes today on the show I'm

lucky enough to be able to be joined by

Billy Frederick Billy how are you doing

I am doing great thanks for having me

Sam yes my pleasure definitely excited

for this conversation based on your

background but for the audience why

don't you take this chance to kind of

tell the audience who you are where

you're coming from and kind of give them

a little bit of a background on who you

are sure so yeah my name is Billy

Frederick I live in California

so I was I've been a baseball player my

whole life since I was five ever since

t-ball so when I hit age 11 I was at

baseball practice I remember this and I

had no energy whatsoever I could barely

move so my my dad took me out of

practice and we went to the hospital and

we got my my blood checked and I say

was 695 was my blood sugar so yeah so my

doctor told me that I had type 1

diabetes and my asked him can i still

play baseball and he said yes absolutely

he told me that he would prefer that I

stay active you know it it helps my

blood sugar so that was that was good

news there so yeah that was when I was

11 and I continued to play baseball in

Little League right after that I got a

Medtronic insulin pump I think when I

was 12 it was not long after I was

diagnosed I got my pump and I've been

using Medtronic ever since for you know

about 12 years or so I'm 23 now and I

really like it the pump definitely

helped when I would play play sports and

exercise and also it's a lot nicer too

because I don't have to shoot insulin

into me whenever I eat so that's nice

but yeah so I continue to play baseball

and was lucky enough to get a

scholarship to UC Santa Barbara and

played there for four years and we made

the College World Series in 2016 and

Omaha Nebraska that was so much fun we

were on the road for 23 days we stopped

at Nashville to play regionals against

Vanderbilt and then we went to

Louisville Kentucky to play the

University of Louisville for Super

Regionals and then we went to Omaha

Nebraska to with the other 7 remaining

teams for the World Series my mom had to

ship me insulin and pump supplies

because I was running low after the 23

days but yeah that was the time in my

life so much fun it was in 2017 last

year finish playing baseball and I

graduated from UCSB and so yeah we're we

find ourselves at this point now and I'm

still trying to remain active I am

continuing to lift weights and I'm

preparing to climb Mount Whitney in

California it's the highest mountain in

the contiguous United States so that's

my next goal that I want to have you

know I'm not a goal based goal oriented

guy you know I always have to have to

face a channel

you know and after baseball is done I

wanted to challenge so that's what I'm

trying to do and oh and I also got a

freestyle Libre blood sugar monitor

continuous blood sugar monitor and I

really like it my blood sugar has been

really good ever since I got it I

checked my seven-day average yesterday

and it was 135 I think Wow so yeah it's

just been it's been really helping I

really like it that's fantastic yeah

that's you know there's so much to your

story as we were kind of talking before

this recording so I want to kind of

proceed in a somewhat chronological

order I wanted to go back to your

childhood growing up and kind of how you

found that passion for baseball you

mentioned that your dad actually built a

batting cage in your backyard yeah yeah

so do you remember this period sort of

pre-diabetes and what was that sort of

like when you discovered that you had a

passion for baseball yeah my dad put me

in t-ball when I was five and at that

point I was like okay whatever you know

I didn't really enjoy it didn't really

hate it I just I just did it because my

dad told me to do it a couple years

later I really started to enjoy it and

loved it and yeah so I was about you

know seven or eight yeah my dad built a

batting cage in our backyard made out of

PVC pipe and we laid this netting over

it so it was basically a PVC pipe sort

of box structure and we laid netting

over it and then my dad bought a

pitching machine so he measured out the

pitching machine distance from home

plate to major-league distance and he

would crank it up to you know 95 you

know not this was not when I was eight

but when I was older in high school like

you would he would crank it up to 95 and

we would have you know major league

simulation batting practice and me and

my dad did that a lot and me and my dad

were talking about it and we really

enjoyed those days me and him hanging

out in the backyard during the summer

and hitting it was a lot of fun I really

enjoyed it yeah that sounds like a dream

type of situation kind of father-son

scenario but also development as a

baseball player as well because

obviously your

baseball falling in love with the sport

and then we kind of have a shaky period

you know a diagnosis at age 11 what was

that period like what was the transition

process for you obviously at 11 you're

still very young but at the same time

there are parts of your life that have

kind of started to solidify from you

know what foods you prefer to eat to

kind of just how you go about your life

so what was that transition period like

for you yeah it was difficult at first

well one thing that I really remember is

being embarrassed about it it was during

the summer this happened and so I had to

leave baseball early and just take time

off you know to get my blood sugar down

and figure out how to take insulin how

much to take you know how many carbs are

in food all that stuff so so it took me

like a long time before I got back into

the swing of things but I remember I was

being I was really embarrassed my

parents told me when I go back to school

in the fall that I have to tell two of

my best friends that I'm diabetic so

they would know how to help me if I went

into shock or anything so I remember

telling my my two best friends and that

was really nervous and embarrassed about

it but as time passed I I learned to

accept it and be proud of Who I am and I

did have to change my diet a little bit

obviously I had to take shots every time

I ate before the pump so it was hard to

get shots you know four times a day five

times a day it was hard because before I

would just go to the doctor's office

once a year and get get a flu shot or

hit some shot and that would be it but

this became a daily thing and that was a

hard thing to deal with but again over

time I just got used to it and learn to

accept it but it wasn't it wasn't an

easy process that's for sure yeah I

think it certainly takes time as is the

case with anything but I wanted to ask

Billie during that period after your

diagnosis and heading into high school

heading into college were there any

diabetic failures or or instances where

you had a severe

hello that sort of served as a learning

experience for you well I would say

fortunately no nothing serious I never

had to go to the hospital or anything

for any highs or lows but I I did have a

time where I was at a baseball game and

my blood sugar was high so I took

insulin and I didn't allow enough time

for the insulin to work so I checked my

blood about 20 minutes later and it

wasn't coming down really so I took more

insulin and then I checked 10 minutes

later and it still wasn't where I wanted

it so I took more insulin and luckily it

didn't get dangerous but I went really

low and I had to come out of the game

and sit it out but that was definitely a

learning experience for me right there

not to over stack the insulin and let it

work yeah and my my dad made sure I'd

never did that again he had a long talk

with me never to do that mm-hmm yeah I

think I've certainly experienced that as

well and when you're trying to battle

cortisol and stress especially in an

athletic situation like before a game

your body just does not respond as it

normally does to insulin and obviously

you want to perform at a high level so

you're really trying to drive down that

insulin drive down that blood sugar with

excess amounts of insulin and then all

of a sudden you're playing and it kind

of catches up with you so I think that's

a really common thread amongst athletes

that other people with d1d and athletics

need to be aware of

give yourself yeah normal bolus even if

you are you know 300 before a game

because if you do over bolus and you

really try to drive it down aggressively

you're going to crash and obviously it's

better to err on the side of caution

during a game yeah

and I noticed that stress really really

influences my blood sugar I can go high

so quickly and that's one thing I always

had to take note of my my nervousness

level I was really nervous I would

expect to be high you know did you try

to come up with any sort of coping

mechanism for the stress be it like a

breathing pattern

or something like that or was it more

just a general awareness of that well

yeah I learned to be more aware of my

stress level that was that was a big

thing but as time went on I started to

get less nervous before games especially

throughout college but yeah I never

adopted a like a breathing technique or

anything to to cope with my stress maybe

I should have that that sounds like a

good idea yeah I've heard some athletes

adopt that and Chris Freeman who was an

Olympic cross-country skier who we had

the who he had on the show was actually

a big proponent of that and he said as I

kind of went through this cycle of

breathing I could actually see on my CGM

my blood Sugar's start to plateau and

eventually come down so it works while

people I think to just like you said a

general awareness of that is really

important as well but I wanted to get to

your time at UC Santa Barbara I'm

extremely jealous of the school

relocation I'm a huge Southern

California fan even though I'm from

Boston but tell us a little bit about

how you came to settle on that school

and what the the recruitment process was

like and obviously the transition as

well into playing college athletics yeah

so my dad sent out a bunch of my

highlight tapes to colleges he like put

it on a DVD and he said he sent it all

around California and stuff like that

and UCSB liked it and they had me come

and they gave me an offer and after we

came back home my dad told me that I

should take it and I wasn't really aware

of all the colleges back then in high

school I don't really know why I just

wasn't really into learning about all

the schools and where they were and

stuff like that I was just just into

playing baseball like in the present and

so he told me to take and I was like

okay that you know you know more than I

do in terms of school so so I'll I'll

accept UC Santa Barbara and that was a

great decision a great choice that my

dad told me to do I I went through

another learning process my freshman


because I would have to do everything on

my own now make food go to why choose a

time when to go to bed choose how much

sleep I should get you know all that

stuff and that was hard to to control my

blood sugar because I was so busy

especially at college I would ride my

bike to class I would play much more

baseball than I would in high school and

I experienced a lot of lows during

college because I was just so busy but

but after a while I learned how to

control my basal rate on my pump and I

learned more of what foods I should eat

what what helps that and Heather how to

better combat highs and lows and all

that stuff so yeah I definitely went

through another learning process my

freshman year certainly yeah so I wanted

to ask Billy I think a common thread

amongst diabetic athletes as they head

into college is and really anyone

diabetic or otherwise is that added

sense of independence and that can be a

great thing and it can force us to be

more accountable for our diabetes and

just of our of ourselves in general or

it can kind of lead us to push diabetes

to the backburner how were you able to

make sure that that wasn't the case and

that you stay dialed in in terms of your

treatment and your management of t1d

yeah my baseball performance would be

very influenced by my blood sugar if I

was high I couldn't run hard I can swing

hard I can throw hard my body would just

get just tired and achy and so much for

my performance would suffer in that and

also of course lows too I would get weak

and shaky and dizzy when I was low and

baseball requires a lot of lot of mental

focus and and you need you if your if

your brain is low on sugar than they

can't focus well so so that baseball is

one thing that really made you know made

me really focus on my blood sugar

because I I needed that I definitely

needed that

and plus if my blood sugar was slower

high I wouldn't be able to sleep fit and

then the next day I would be tired I

practice because of that so my whole

life would revolve her around how good

my blood sugar is you know as an athlete

so that was definitely a motivation for

that but but I I always had the

motivation to keep my blood sugar good

even before college and and independence

but College definitely helps me learn

how to be independent yeah I think it

certainly sounds like you did a

fantastic job of managing it as you kind

of transition to college you referenced

UCSB made it to the College World Series

talk about that experience you run the

road you said for 23 days it had to be

shipped insulin had to be shipped

different diabetic supplies how are you

able to continue to stay dialed in

during that period and what was just

that process like overall you said it

was sort of the time of your life so

tell us a little bit about that

experience yeah it was so much fun

so we took finals in Kentucky so we were

going through school through the

regionals and Super Regionals and right

before we got to Omaha we were done with

finals so they they basically flew out

some people to proctor attests our

finals in the hotel room in Kentucky so

right after bass I mean right after

school was done we all all our job was

was to play baseball in Omaha and you

know play baseball on this huge stadium

on national television so you know I had

no other worries about anything it was

only about baseball and and it was just

awesome I felt like a major leaguer they

they treated us like major leaguers

that's for sure and I got to play in the

major leagues like stadium so yeah it

was out of my life I had so much fun and

I remember in Nashville my blood sugar

would never come down and it could be

from one or two two reasons Nashville

was very hot humid

so the insulin could have gotten hot and

caused it to not work as well or it also

could have been adrenaline because this

was I think right after we won the

regionals so so I was I was really

excited and I can contain myself because

we're going to the Super Regionals now

and and it was really hot so my insulin

wasn't really working so I had to go

pick up another vial at Walgreens but

that was a weird time and and yeah it

was hectic it was hectic because

everything new was happening over there

so that was one thing I had to battle

but but after that my blood sugar level

not leveled off and that was able to

play and it was it was just off so

looking back on those 23 days is there a

moment or a day that kind of stands out

to you as being a high point of that

experience yeah we were playing Miami in

the College World Series this was game

number two there was a man on third and

I was up to that and my coach gave me

the squeeze sign so basically so I'm the

batter so I bunt and the runner on third

runs home and that is a very hard plate

to defend for the defense and if done

right it's it results in a score at home

plate so I remember he gave me the

squeeze sign and I looked up around the

stadium to all the people and I thought

to myself no one knows what I'm about to

do here I'm going to surprise everyone

in the stadium and so the pitcher threw

me a fastball and I bunted it and the

runner at third scored and that was

definitely a high point because because

I that was just a cool cool experience

absolutely I think across different

sports that being able to drive in a run

driving a teammate or you know my

background is foot

all kind of scoring and you know writing

with your teammates it's that

camaraderie and Brotherhood it certainly

sounds like you guys had a fair bit of

that you know being on the road for 23

days taking finals together away from

school do you think you were able to

rely on those guys from a diabetic

management standpoint as well were they

aware of your condition and how did you

kind of lean on those guys throughout

that process yeah so everyone knew that

I was diabetic everyone knew that I

would check my blood throughout the game

and drink Gatorade when I was low that's

my go-to drink

so yeah the they all supported me and

they knew what was going on if I went

and sat down them the dugout during

practice and the coaches knew too and

they were very accepting of that and

they let me sit down and and take care

of myself that was one thing too that I

was worried about when I was really

young is I don't know if the coaches

will get mad at me if I sit down during

practice but every coach I've had you

know understands and is willing to help

me win when it comes to blood sugar

issues so that's one thing that I would

I would tell to other diabetic athletes

the kids out there you know everyone's

here to help you you know with diabetes

and everyone's rooting for you so don't

don't feel bad don't feel like you're

letting the team down when you have to

sit out because you know that's just the

way life is for us and everyone else

understands and and everyone treated me

really great on my teams with diabetes

and and they were always willing to help

yeah I remember one time in college I

was at my friend's house and I went

really low and I ran out of stuff so my

friend ran to 7-eleven he biked he biked

to 7-eleven is fast he could and got me

Gatorade and Brattain brought it back

and yeah I'll never forget that

yeah and that he was one of my teammates

so that was awesome thing he did and

yeah my teammates were very accepting of

it yeah it's uh it's always really

humbling and moving to see friends kind

of spring into action and I think every

diabetic can kind of point to a time

where they were in a rough spot and you

know they didn't have glucose tabs

or you know Gatorade on them like in

your case and whether you know a friend

or a family member or you know someone

in some sort of supporting capacity kind

of jumped into action and was there to

kind of save the day and it's a it's

important to know that those people want

to do that and that in no way are you

being a burden on your team as an asset

or just on anyone in any sort of

environment by having diabetes you know

they do it like I said those people want

to be there they want to be there to

help you but I wanted to bring up

outside of diabetes you battled another

chronic illness and good answer and I

wanted to get your take on what that

experience was like and not only being a

diabetic but also being a cancer

survivor as well it's just a quite an

accomplishment and testament to your

toughness and your ability to overcome

adversity so talk to us about that

experience so I had stage one to stick

your cancer and this was August of 2017

yeah yeah August of 2017 and it was

really hard it was it was really hard

time there were points where I didn't

know what was going to happen I didn't

know what the outcomes were going to be

there were times where we didn't even

know if it was a good cancer or like you

for a better word like a less dangerous

cancer or the dangerous cancer we we

were we weren't too sure which one it

was and so those times were really hard

with all the uncertainty that that was

going on but once we found out exactly

what it was

and we found out all the procedures that

I was going to go through and all that

stuff it started to to be less scary

because I knew what was going on and so

I I took a chemotherapy in September I

think and it was Stage one and so I only

went in for a day and got an IV just for

a day so that was fortunate for me but

but yeah that was definitely tough chemo

made my blood sugar go high and I for

the next week or so I could barely move

because I was just so like tired and

beat up from the chemo because it's

basically poison so so yeah and yeah I

had blood sugar issues there but I would

say diabetes in my prior life helped me

be able to cope with it a little bit

because I'm used to needles I'm used to

closely watching my body in and taking

care of it and and changing my schedule

in order to accommodate for for my

diabetes and all that stuff so all that

stuff was not new to me but but yeah I

would say life of diabetes helped me be

better prepared for this so I am cancer

free now so so that's great and but I

still got diabetes that's probably not

going to go away for anytime soon but

but I'm managing it and I am I conquered

cancer and every day I'm choosing to

conquer diabetes and it's a battle every

day it's not easy but but I choose not

to be knocked down and I choose to

conquer and and to take control

yeah diabetes is one thing that really

taught me how to battle adversity

through baseball because baseball

there's a lot of striking out and all

that stuff so so yeah you know I learned

how to face adversity through through

diabetes that's for sure I love the

message Billy and it's I wanted to ask

you because I mean there are people that

are positive and I certainly sensed that

you're one of those people but you know

in August of 2017 you get that diagnosis

and what was going through your mind at

that point obviously you mentioned that

diabetes kind of prepared you for this

and certainly the University and

athletics can help prepare you for

dealing with the adversity

of a cancer diagnosis but how are you

able to stay in that positive frame of

mind with this second diagnosis the

second chronic illness kind of cropping

up yes I definitely went through a dark

time now you know I was really upset and

and angry and embarrassed because I'm

diabetic and now I have this new thing

and it was it was hard mostly because of

all the uncertainty yeah at first but

after I knew what was going on and stuff

like that I calmed down and and decided

to to battle the adversity battling

adversity as a decision and you have to

make that decision every day so yeah you

know it was it was really tough to

accept it at first really tough and you

know everyone's going to go through some

hard times in their lives and and it's

okay to to be upset sometimes but I

learned to to make the decision to

battle adversity I made the decision and

that's one thing that my coach would say

at UCSB it's a decision to to work hard

it's a decision to to focus it's the

decision that take care of your body

everything is a decision and we need to

make that decision because you're the

the one to take care of yourself so so

yeah you know I I eventually well not

eventually quickly I quickly came to the

realization that hey I'm in control I I

need to take care of this yeah and

strength is his decision and courage is

a decision and that's one thing I

learned through diabetes and and through

through my coach definitely I love it

yeah that's such an important mindset

and I wanted to ask Billy for people who

were struggling to make that decision

maybe they were just recently diagnosed

and maybe they're in denial about their

diabetes and they could just be going

through a rough patch what would be your

advice to that person to that diabetic

so that they could make that decision

and that they under that they can

understand how that decision was

their lives going forward life with good

blood sugar is basically a normal life

but yeah you know when you have good

control of your bullets blood sugar you

just feel so good and you feel normal

and and it's just such a reward for

working hard when by checking your blood

sugar off and by eating right by

exercising it's such a reward to have

good blood sugar and and after I got

this resell libre continuous glucose

monitor it I've been just feeling so

good and it's it's just so rewarding and

I'm so happy to have good blood sugar

because I can I can do so many fun

things like ride my bike with my friends

and play soccer and and play baseball

back then it's such a reward but but

don't one piece of advice I would say is

it's definitely hard it's definitely

hard and no one says it's easy so yeah I

had to acknowledge that it's it's not

easy it's difficult and you have to just

battle adversity and do it and it's very

rewarding when when you work hard and

deal with it and and everyone around me

has just been so accepting of it my

family is its rooting for me and always

taking care of me especially my mom and

all my friends too they they don't look

at me as at some weird person they

definitely don't they they just really

accept me for who I am and and they take

care of me and and I've never met a

person who looked down upon me because I

have to check my blood sugar and stuff

like that and so yeah I would say my

advice is it's just so awarded of

rewarding to have good blood sugar it's

it's just awesome and I feel so good

when my blood sugar is good yeah and on

the topic of conquering things and

overcoming adversity you talked earlier

about the next thing you have on your

list of things to accomplish is climbing

Mount Whitney so talked about

transitioning out of baseball and

trying to remain active trying to stay

fit and make sure that you're setting

goals that kind of push you outside your

comfort zone so I remember I was in the

hospital for my cancer and I was laying

on the bed and I told my dad all right

I'm gonna climb out with me so I want to

I not only want to get back on my feet

but I want to get back on my feet and

exceed and and go higher when I when I

got knocked down last year I just don't

want to be stagnant I want to get back

up and work even harder and try

something new and accomplish something

there so yeah Mount Whitney is 14,500

feet it's located in central California

and it's only mountains in Alaska or

higher so I thought that this would be a

fun experience and I actually tried it

this summer and I had to turn around I

was about I would say 13,000 feet and my

blood sugar was really going crazy I was

going low very quickly and then I would

eat stuff and drink stuff and I would go

really high really quickly when I would

try to balance my basal rate I would

sometimes turn off my pump or I would

sometimes lower my basal rate and all

that stuff and I would really try to do

combat my blood sugar but it just went

really crazy so I had to turn around and

even you know even having diabetes for

about 12 years I'm still learning it's

the learning process will never end so

I'm going to try to climb it next year

and hopefully I'll be successful but but

yeah it's all a learning process and I

have never been up to 13,000 feet before

and I never knew how to do that in terms

of diabetic stuff so so it's all a

learning process and you know we're all

going to get get blood sugar issues you

know no matter how old you are know no

matter how long you've had diabetes it's

all a learning process every day and one

thing that I want to focus on is not


that upset me of having to turn around

because I just didn't know how to

control it

so so now I'm going to announce and now

I have a little bit more experience and

knowledge on what to do so hopefully I

can do it next year but yeah I'm really

looking forward to it and it's just a

beautiful noun that's it's just awesome

and yeah it staying fit as a diabetic is

really important to continue to continue

to exercise and be active so I've I've

been running around my neighborhood

doing some runs and that's just been

really beneficial to my blood sugar as

well so I would encourage everybody to

exercise a little bit and exercise goes

a long way with diabetes I've learned I

learned that if I run a mile or two on

one day my blood sugar would remain low

or not not low but remain normal for the

next few days it would really help

keeping my blood sugar blood sugar

you know mild for the next few days you

know I could not run again for the next

few days but my blood sure I see signs

of it

staying normal so so a little bit of

exercise goes a long way and it helps

out a lot and we're very lucky to be

able to stay active as diabetics you

know we're very lucky that even with our

disease we could we could still do some

awesome things and fun things so so

that's about that stuff yeah absolutely

I think you know diet and then also

fitness are two of the most important

factors that if you can utilize those in

your life and and apply those to your

diabetes you're going to see massive

returns in terms of more stable blood

sugars just less bikes and obviously

less lows as well but you touched on

another important point Billy in that

diabetes is a learning process every day

and even for the people who have the

was dialed in a one sees and the best

treatment out there everyone has more to

learn and even the people with the best

management are going to have rough days

and there's always something more to

learn you know case in point in your

story Mount Whitney but at the same time

taking that having to turn around and

not being upset and frustrated and

disappointed by that experience learning

how to apply that the next time around

yeah you just use realization for all

diabetics to be able to apply that

mindset but Billy it was an honor

talking to you and do you have any of

anything else for the t1d community sure

I I don't know if this is sort of a

pliable to everyone but since I am no

longer playing baseball I had to adjust

my diet a little bit more to help my

blood sugar out because with baseball I

would just be running around every day

and so that would keep my blood sugar

down and I would have to eat a ton of

food to keep my caloric intake you know

even so so after baseball I decided to

eat less carbs and that would limit the

spike after meals so eating less carbs

helped me to even out my blood sugar a

lot more and I'm not sure if that's up

liable to everyone but that is what I

have tried and it's working out really

well and the blood sugar has been doing

good so yeah that's one thing I learned

very recently I'm a huge low carb diet

guy myself and as much as fitness and

exercise gets talked about and I I don't

want to underplay that at all it's

hugely important but if you can go about

your day and have you know like what I

like to do is a big egg scramble

breakfast with a bunch of veggies

there's no carbs in that that's a great

richer day well thank you and you have

to see much much more stability and then

you layer in the fitness on top of that

then you're really

cookin and if you can do those two

things and fitness and diet that's going

to go a long way yeah yeah and another

thing too is everyone is different

everyone's bodies react with certain

foods differently and everyone reacts to

exercise differently so so one thing to

do is really pay attention to to your

body some things that I say might not

work for you you know or might not work

is good for you or might even work

better for you like with me one thing

really brings on sugar tablets those

glucose tablets you bring up my blood

sugar more than it says that's one thing

I learned so so everyone's different and

and learn how your body reacts and your

body will thank you your blood sugar

will thank you like we said it's that

constant learning process and you gotta

you gotta be willing to to kind of put

in the time to research what works and

what doesn't for you it's such a huge

part of the process but Billy thanks so

much for coming on in I appreciate it

okay thank you so much for having me and

I enjoy talking with you I'm Billy

Frederick I have type one diabetes and I

have a game plan we hope you enjoyed

this episode of the game plan to indie

podcast related content please visit

Kate Hall Show Notes

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 9 - Kate Hall

Sam Benger

Published on Oct 1, 2018

This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D athlete Kate Hall. Undeterred by her diabetes diagnosis, Kate has been dominating track and field for years. Kate is a two time high school National Champion, a two time NCAA National Champion, and an aspiring Olympian. Tune in and learn how Kate excels despite T1D!

hello t1d community what's happening

this is Sam here with game plan to you


I wanted to let everyone know that we're

coming up on our 10th episode it's been

recorded and we're releasing it a week

from today that being said it's a good

time to pause and reflect on our

progress and seek out feedback from the

MVPs the true t1d Allstars our listeners

that's right if you're listening to this

podcast and you're enjoying our content

or perhaps you think it's garbage

either way we want to know shoot me an

email at Sam at game plan to you Wendy

calm you can send us a message through

our website as well or hit us up on

social media at gameplan t1d please

don't be shy we won't be offended we

want to make sure we're serving you guys

the t1d community to the best of our

ability with that being said on today's

episode we're coming to you with another

story of inspiration and success in the

face of adversity please enjoy my

conversation with track-and-field phenom

kate hall welcome to the game plan to

indie podcast

I'm your host Sam bender on this podcast

we explore the lives of athletes living

with t1d

to try to uncover what it is that allows

them to excel despite their diabetes

today on the show I'm joined by Kate

Hall Kate how are you doing I'm good how

are you

doing fantastic this whole process for

me in starting and running game plan to

und has been so much about exploration

and trying to find the best and

brightest in terms of diabetic athletes

and I was so impressed when I came

across your I believe was your Instagram

profile and just some of the things that

you've been able to accomplish really

just blew me away but for our audience

and other people who may not be familiar

with you I wanted to give you the chance

to kind of introduce yourself yeah sure

I am kids I am originally from Maine

pretty cold but the summers are really

nice I was diagnosed with type 1

diabetes when I was 10 years old I'm now

21 and I do track and feel

old I competed in Division one level and

I'm a Division one national champion two

times and also the national high school

record holder and now I am a

professional whole track and field

athlete so that's pretty much me that's

awesome and are you so now I just said

you're a professional are you out of the

collegiate athletic realm and now into

solely competing in track and field yeah

so I'm no longer involved in the

n-c-double-a so I'm in the process now

of trying to secure a shoe contract but

I'll be jumping professionally so I'm

really excited about that

that is super exciting that is so

awesome so I want to backtrack a little

bit I want to go back obviously

in here about your diagnosis from what I

understand you were diagnosed when

you're ten years old yes so I wanted to

talk about what was that process like

what was that transition like and was

this prior to your sort of falling in

love with track and field or around the

same time and just what was that

experience like for you yeah so it was

around the same time that I started

track there's actually a little bit

before but I was really into sports I

was doing soccer I was doing basketball

I was always a very positive happy child

nothing crazy and then all of a sudden I

just started acting kind of weird I was

getting really emotional crying a lot

which wasn't like me eating a lot

drinking a lot and just I didn't want to

do anything I didn't want to go hang out

with my friends which really was unlike

me so my parents brought me to the

doctor and she was like oh you're just

you're just having a growth spurt

because you're drinking and eating a lot

and parents are kind of like um kind of

weird cuz like I was obviously acting

pretty weird so they brought me to the

hospital a couple days later when I

started feeling even worse and that's

when I find that found out

that I was diabetic and gave myself my

first-ever shot so since then it's been

it's been an experience but it's kind of

made me kind of helped motivate me in

other aspects of my life and it's Who I

am and I I want to get your tape how

long do you think that process was where

you were kind of not feeling like

yourself because I've heard ranging

accounts of people that you know I think

they were their diabetes came on in a

day and they went to the doctors right

away and they were able to diagnose it

in just a few days but other people live

with the symptoms for months before they

actually address the diagnosis but how

long was that period for you and once

you did get the diagnosis what were some

of the immediate thoughts and emotions

kind of going through your head so I

think that process is what a week or two

it was so long ago now I don't

completely remember but I'm sure it was

within a couple weeks all I remember is

playing outside with my friend and I had

to keep coming inside to get drinks

because I was just so thirsty so I kept

coming aside over and over and

apparently like was coming on like you

never drink this much so that's kind of

the first thing that I noticed and then

it just kind of kept getting worse on

the next couple weeks and that's when we

went to the doctor and and found out I

was diagnosed so it was somewhat of a

shock that I had this disease and that I

was going to be giving shots for the

rest of my life but the same time like I

wasn't scared I was pretty positive

about it and my mom was laying in my

hospital bed with me and she was really

upset she was crying and I'm like why

are you crying everything's gonna be

fine and I think the only thing I was

really kind of scared of was I was

worried that I wasn't going to be able

to play sports and once I realized that

I was going to be able to know wasn't

going to stop Maven I was okay it's

pretty wise for a ten-year-old to be

able to console her mom and

after a diagnosis but it definitely

sounds like you adapted to the situation

and took on a positive mindset right

away yeah yeah for sure

so pivoting back to track and field you

take the diagnosis in stride obviously

as you mentioned and as well get into

you have some serious accomplishments

not only at the high school level but

the collegiate level and going forward

being an aspiring olympian and a

professional athlete obviously had major

success but when did this all start to

sort of manifest at a young age where

people able to see wow you know Kate

you're you're a step ahead of everyone

and when when and how did that sort of

all start to manifest yeah I was I was

pretty young I was always athletic as a

young child but it wasn't until I would

say my sophomore year of high school

where I was becoming pretty good on a

national level and that's when I

realized that I wanted to jump in

college and I wanted to pursue a career

and hopefully make the Olympics someday

my marks were getting much better in the

long jump and I had gone to the national

meet and scored in high school and in my

senior year end up winning and setting

the national record so I just kept

working hard and I really attribute that

to my diabetes because from a very young

age I had to make all these calculations

and give these shots so my work I've had

really started that and when I was ten

and correct me if I'm wrong but you were

also nationally ranked as a sprinter as

well in addition to the long jump yes

yes so what what was that process like

being able to not only excel in the

field events and in jumping but also on

the track as well yes all right

I always did both the long jump and the

sprints it wasn't until I'd say my

senior year of high school where I

noticed that if I was going to be really

good is going to be the long-ago

but I love running as well and it's good

to do so

because then you're not always focused

on just one event but I kept getting

better and better and sprinting and even

the past year I got better and was

all-american at the end of a meet so my

goal is to keep getting better and

hopefully maybe look at child for that

as well so I wanted to ask obviously

two-time national high school champion

certainly the culmination of a lot of

work during that high school period what

were those competitions like and what do

you recall from those competitions yes

so in high school all the meats are

pretty low-key there wasn't like a huge

crowd there wasn't anything super

exciting until the major bigger

meats but when I got to the collegiate

level it was completely different I'd go

to a meet and the stands would be fallen

especially in Oregon where the Nationals

usually I would be at least 20,000

people in the stands so my first time

ever competing there which was the

Olympic Trials two years ago it was

pretty overwhelming because I wasn't

used to that and everyone's watching you

and cheering you on but when I kind of

got used to that environment it actually

helped me and helped push me and it's

very exciting and in moving to be in

such a cool environment where other

people are very excited about the sport

yeah I wanted to ask I mean I I did

track in high school but by no means was

anywhere in the same ballpark as you my

background is in purview is football but

what is it like as an athlete to do so

much training and put in so much effort

and then have when it gets to the stage

of competition all of your effort comes

down to one or two or three or however

run it is jumps it's a very small sample

size to kind of display your ability how

do you make sure that you're executing

and performing at a high level for that

one jump yes so for a track it's

definitely all about the training

because obviously in other sports like

basketball baseball there's so many

games but with track it's really just


meets a season which is not many at all

so it really just comes down to being

consistent in training and doing like

full approach jumps in practice and

pretending you're out of meat and then

if you're consistent in practice and

feeling good then usually that's kind of

an indicator that you're going to be

doing well at meats I recall from my

days in high school tracked the timing

of events was very punctual and a lot of

people seemed to have different routines

obviously with being a diabetic there's

sort of an added layer there do you kind

of have a pre jump routine that you go

through pretty regularly so my warmup is

always very consistent I'm usually doing

the same warm-ups even during practice

when I go to me it might be a little bit

longer I might do a couple of activation

thing just to get my body a little bit

more ready but when it comes to like

being on the runway or getting into the

blocks I always have the same kind of

routine and it helps relax me and gets

me ready and I think it's it's really

helpful and important and how does

diabetes factor into that are you

checking you know multiple times leading

up to the jump how does that all play

into the situation that's the other

things so we get like a schedule of

events obviously so I'm kind of planning

out my meals throughout the day and I'm

trying to eat three hours before

competitions so that my blood Sugar's

are are stable at that point and then

I'm checking every 30 minutes once I get

to the track and then I'm looking at my

CGM to see what that is so it's

definitely a process but I've done it so

many times that it's pretty normal now

kind of becoming second nature at this

point yeah yeah exactly

so we talked about competing at the high

school level obviously you mentioned

stepping up to college with 20,000

people in the stands was completely

different how did you handle that

transition and what was it like

competing at that higher level it

definitely was a transition like I said

before it's very different in high

school especially living in Maine tracks

not not super huge just because it's

cold during the outdoor season early to

start of the outdoor season so it can be

hard but once I started going to the

bigger meats I got more comfortable and

I actually loved it because then I knew

at the beach I would always have

competitions and they are always going

to push me to become better so that's

kind of when I realized oh I want to

always be at big meats like this and if

I want to be a big meats like this I

need to get better and go to school

Division one and exceed so what was the

emotion of winning not once but twice at

the NC double-a level how gratifying was

that obviously you had the success at

the high school level but there's so

much added uncertainty when you bump up

in competitiveness to that collegiate

level what were some of the emotions

they were feeling after winning not once

but twice pretty it's pretty hard to

explain that I was just so happy and

grateful because I love the sport and

that's I think why I I'm so motivated

why I keep getting better is because I

love the sport and I love training and

it had always been a big goal in mind to

well first my be goal was to win on the

high school level

Michael national level and then go into

college and one as well and when I was

able to accomplish that it was just a

dream come true true and it was so

exciting so on that topic of dreams in

goal setting you mentioned the fact that

you're an aspiring Olympian yes when did

that first kind of pop into your head

that you know this could be a reality

and this is something that I want to

sort of set my sights on so it's

actually kind of a funny story I was

only a freshman in high school the

Olympic Trials were on TV so 30 2012 at

that point I was only jumping 17 feet in

the long jump

and these Olympians are jumping 22 feet

so huge gap they're 17 feet is really

good for veins but not super great on a

national level at that age so when I was

watching the trials on TV I kind of

calculated in my mind how much further

I need to jump each year to make it to

the Olympics and qualify for that

standard I guess every year I started

getting better and when I was watching

that on TV I said I'm going to be in the

Olympic Trials four years from now so

every year I got better and then I

jumped 20 to 5 I senior year of high

school money that was well above the

standard and I knew hit in each yeah I

was very exciting and one of my biggest

goals Wow

and was this a goal that was written

down somewhere that you kind of looked

to on a daily basis as you were training

and how how was it sort of seeing

yourself progress from 17 to 18 to 19 to

eventually that 22 foot mark yes so I

actually I'm in my room right now and

actually like all my wall I have feel a

big standard written from back when I

wasn't even in high school so I still

look at that I have I would look at it

every single day above my mirror and see

that and that would kind of motivate me

to get better and I had an amazing coach

as well so he really helped me get

better every year yeah it was just

working hard and making sure that I body

feels good and and I was able to do it

so I was really exciting so you have the

goals set from a track and field

standpoint from an athletic standpoint

do you also have anywhere written or

sort of mental goals with regard to your

diabetes this could be I want to check

at least eight times a day or I want to

do calibrations to my CGM twice a day or

r1 my a1c to be 6.5 any sort of goal

setting with the diabetes that you could

kind of relate to your goal setting with

track and field for sugar

I usually my goal is to check like six

to eight times a day I think the biggest

thing for me is just making sure that my

blood Sugar's are really good before

during and after my workouts I went

through icing a period like a month ago

where my blood Sugar's were constantly

low during my workouts

so I kind of met with my doctor and he

talking about it and we came up with a

plan the goal was to eliminate those

lows because obviously affecting my

training so what kind of just taking

things like one week at a time and

setting new goals as we go so you

mentioned your checking I wanted to ask

about the system of management that you

sort that you use from a technology

standpoint what what is the system of

management that you use and how does

that sort of empower you to go forward

and perform at a high level yeah so I

use omni pod and i've been using that

for four years I was initially initially

using Medtronic but it was really hard

it was tracked with the tubing because

if you're going to go to attract me in

high school where you could be doing

four events you don't have a lot of time

to kind of sit around so I couldn't wear

it because of always falafels was on so

that was kind of an issue so then I got

the ugly pod because you don't have to

disconnect stays right on doesn't come

off no tubing so that's made a huge huge

difference and by training so it's been

great and then I noticed no CGM yes yes

I do

you do have a CGM yeah I've been using

that for past I think three years now

and that's been very convenient because

now I don't have to prick my fingers

every thirty minutes I can just look at

my my meter and it tells me what my

blood sugars are at all times before

they're trending and causes way less

stress so it's really cool for sure I

think see GM's have to be one of the

most important breakthroughs for

diabetic treatment you know in the last

however many years certainly helping

athletes just make sure that they're

performing at the highest level possible

you mentioned having some lows during

training sessions I wanted to ask what

do you sort of feel is the most

consistent challenge you face as a

diabetic athlete second questions I

think I think the answer would

just kind of having so for my training

I'm always training at different times

during the day it could be early morning

it could be afternoon I found that it

can be hard to get my blood Sugar's to

stay on a good level no matter what kind

of day I'm training so right now I'm

trying to figure out different setting

for different times a day on training so

I think that's the hardest thing right

now like I said with the lows I was

getting those I think mostly for lunch

and I was training a lot before lunch

last month so once we kind of set like a

tent basal and then started working out

at a different time those went away

so yeah I found temp basil's can be some

people are mad scientist when it comes

to the amount of temp Basil's they do

and things that they program in and yeah

all of that's really empowered by the

technology we have today and it's

fantastic yeah on the flip side of

insulin and treatment from that

standpoint I want to ask about obviously

you're doing a lot of training and as an

athlete fueling your body is hugely

important I wanted to ask about sort of

what is your nutrition plan and what do

you use to fuel your body obviously

common concern is carbohydrates as

emily's we need that energy source but

at the same time it can cause our blood

sugars to spike and also drop as well so

what is your system for nutrition I

actually have celiac disease as well so

that's another thing on my plate that

I'm that I'm dealing with but it's good

because it kind of helped me stay

healthy and I had that when I got that

when I was diagnosed as well so I've

been dealing with that since I was 10 so

it was really good to get that at a

young age because I've just been living

that way for a long time and it's only

getting easier as more products come out

that are gluten-free but I'd have to say

yeah I do

I do eat a lot of carbs because

like you said your body needs it of

energy but I try to stay away from sugar

obviously that's more fast-acting than

like a bowl of pasta so you're not going

to get those spikes as much if you have

a lot of sugar so I try to stay away

from really sugary things which includes

Gatorade or Powerade I try to drink like

coconut water instead and that's what I

found helps a lot but yeah I do eat a

lot of rice a lot of pasta I really like

to pull away yeah logically I need a lot

of meat - a lot of chickens so things

like that mainly a lot of fruits and

veggies and seeds and nuts so yeah I

think diet and people talk about

exercise all the time but diet and if

you can really dial in a good low carb

low glycemic index diet that is one of

the most important things you can do for

your blood sugar and on a side note if

Chipotle wants to sponsor this podcast I

just huge fan of that but I wanted to

pivot I was doing some background

research before this call and I read an

article that you actually went down to

Washington DC and testified before

Congress before the aging committee in

2015 what was that experience like and

what was it like to be invited to speak

in that setting I was amazing I was

actually really nervous because at that

point I only had a little bit of

experience speaking in front of the

crowd so I was pretty nervous going up

there and speaking in front of Congress

but it went really well it was one of

the best experiences of my life and I

got to meet some pretty cool people and

hopefully made a difference so it was it

was one of the best experiences and for

our listeners who may not know the

context of that of those discussions

what was sort of that difference in the

impact that you guys were trying to

achieve by being there in speaking with

Congress yeah so I was really talking

about living with diabetes and how it

affects not only my legs in general but

my training and all that in just

trying to show them how finding a cure

is so important so just explaining that

to Congress and then going through that

I think I think that made made a

difference to me like I said it was if I

could do it again I would because it was

it was amazing yeah I think the further

government to hear different

perspectives and for the health care

companies to hear different perspectives

from people living with t1d is hugely

important on that topic of advocacy I

wanted to get your take on if there was

a piece of advice that you could offer

up to someone that was perhaps just

diagnosed or someone who's just had

diabetes for a while but is going

through a rough patch right now what

would be your advice and what would be

your message to that person into that

community and why my message would be

that it doesn't have to stop you from

doing anything a lot of people are

scared that they're not going to be not

gonna be able to do what they want but

that's not the case as long as you stay

positive about it you can actually turn

it into something good and it can push

you in all other aspects of your life to

become better and that's what it is for

me so I think it's really important to

get that message across and and also to

not be scared to share with others I

know other diabetics but are a little

shy about sharing whether their friends

or or whoever else and don't you don't

need to be because it's they're only

going to help you know when I look up to

you for for dealing with this so yeah I

think to high school national

championships and to NC double-a

championships will certainly point to

the fact that diabetes does not have to

hold you back no that's not yeah I think

like you know the t1d community is just

so inspirational yeah go on Instagram

type in t1d warrior type into you Wendy

strong type into you indi community and

you will just be blown away by the

amount of awesome people out there doing

awesome things but Kate I you know you

talked about transitioning to becoming a

professional athlete

want to know what's next you talked

about a shoot contract you talked about

the Olympics what should we be looking

out for for Cait hall yeah so what's

next is the World Championships next

year so that's kind of what I'm training

for right now and then the ultimate goal

is feel addiction in 2020 so move right

now is training getting ready for that

trying to secure a shoe contract trying

to find some sponsors so that's what's

going on right now but like I said the

ultimate goal will be the Olympics

well with that we will conclude this

episode of a game plan to und podcast I

know myself and our listeners will be

pulling for UK which is about the world

championships next year and obviously at

the 2020 Olympics as well fingers

crossed there and thank you so much for

coming on the show thank you appreciate


I am Katie Hall I have type one diabetes

and I have a game plan we hope you

enjoyed this episode of the game plan to

indie podcast for related content please

Roy Collins Show Notes

0:06 / 43:17

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 8 - Roy Collins



Sam Benger

Published on Sep 24, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D athlete and aspiring Medical Doctor, Roy Collins. After being diagnosed at age 13 with Type One Diabetes, Collins would go on to play football at Choate Rosemary Hall and eventually at Yale University. While at Yale, Collins not only played offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, but also developed a passion for medicine. Tune in for an informative and uplifting conversation.



hey guys Sam bender here with gameplan

t1d I have just a few housekeeping items

to go over before we get started on

today's episode on October 13th we are

partnering with t1d in action an active

support group for people with type 1

diabetes for a morning of exercise and

learning will be hiking blue hills and

hearing from a few different speakers on

managing diabetes and the resources that

you should be aware of as a diabetic for

anyone in the Greater Boston area during

that time there will be a post on our

social media about that opportunity

coming up shortly so be on the lookout

for that post if you're in the area

outside of that we've got some amazing

guests lined up as I mentioned last week

I don't want to spoil anything but I'm

incredibly excited to sit down with this

group of individuals and share their

stories with you so again be on the

lookout for these episodes as we head

into October and November this week on

the game plan to you indie podcast I sat

down with former Yale football player

and aspiring medical doctor Roy Collins

Roy excelled in football after being

diagnosed at age 13 with t1d

and is now working through several

residences in order to earn his medical

degree Roy and I discussed how his

medical passions were impacted by his

diabetes and how he plans to give back

to the t1d community so without any

further ado please enjoy my conversation

with Roy Collins


all right well with that welcome to the

game plan to you in deep podcast

I'm your host Sam bender today we were

sitting down with Roy Collins former

Yale offensive lineman and aspiring MD

Roy what's going on man good good nice

to talk to you yeah appreciate you guys

yeah so I think you either liked one of

our old post or something like that but

I read just a fascinating article about

your background and coming from an

athletic background and you know

obviously being diagnosed with t1d and

then kind of using that as motivation

and pivoting into the medical field

right now but I wanted to ask what's the

what's your current schedule looking

like it's looking based off your social

media that you're kind of doing some

different residences right now so I just

wanted to ask how that was going yeah

yeah so definitely found you guys on

Instagram just been

pretty active in that dive a t1d

community which is which is great

definitely appreciated kind of all the

interaction there yeah I'm in a little

bit of a whirlwind prep schedule myself

so I'm a fourth-year medical student

right now and so the way the way that it

works is you have the way medical

medical school is broken down causing

the traditional system is you have two

years of what they call pre click-click

preclinical year sorry in those two

years you it's sort of like a college

extended type of feel you're both being

lectures and you're kind of getting

you're kind of getting your base

knowledge your base medical knowledge

and they're sort of taking it through

all the different body systems and and

you're learning about it mostly from

books and videos and some practical

applications but again mostly kind of

your standard textbook lecture style and

then your third and fourth year are

clinical years so you sort of ditch the

classroom and you're you know doing

actual rotation sort of training to end

up becoming a physician and so you're

your third year is spent going through

the required rotations so the required

rotations are going to be internal

medicine pediatrics neurology psychiatry

surgery family medicine as well as OB

guide and so different programs are

different lengths for those and you get

to sort of do a little bit in Dacian

outpatient mostly inpatient though and

kind of just get your basic clinical

knowledge and sort of you apply what

you've learned in the first couple of

years as well as you know much more sort

of on-the-job training and then what

happens in your fourth year you're able

to as you're sort of closing in on what

you actually want to do my specialty

standpoint they're then able to kind of

have a more elective based schedule so

there are still some requirements but

for the most part you get to actually

sort of do whatever you want to do as

you finish out your require standardized

testing and you start applying for

residency I actually sent in my

application this past weekend so that's

a big kind of weight off my shoulders

and with the kind of open elective type

of schedule but you can also do is do

away rotation so I go to school and

singles in the very but I'm sort of


and a few other places as far as

residency and so whether it be before or

after your application kind of has

different implications but what you have

the opportunity to do is to see a

different system outside your system and

even a different patient population

outside of the one that you're usually

sort of working on in the clinical

setting so I've been kind of traveling

all around as I've had different away

rotation opportunities offered towards

me and yeah you're kind of catching in

the middle one right now I'm currently

in New York City

working with the HIV population in

psychiatry which is my associate choice

so you're able to sort of work with a

population that means is dealing with a

very famous infectious disease and kind

of see all the different components that

go into it because it goes way further

outside of just the medical

considerations is a lot of psychosocial

considerations as well as also a

psychiatry concept kind of plays a role

in assessing you know how it how the

disease can actually impact from your

mental fantasy and your emotions as well

as just kind of you know dealing with

something very chronic and and that's

also sort of ties into my Pacific nishan

within psychiatry and my personal

diabetes I'm really interested in

looking at how we can use kind of more

psychosocial modeling and in cuff how

mental health can actually impact the

treatment of chronic illness so that's

sort of what you know I bring to the

table oh that's something I've sort of

studied a lot is up myself with my

chronic illness and in mine diabetes

diagnosis and that's sort of where I'm

going again and we'll see where it goes

well Roy I give you a lot of credit man

apparently for years that Yale wasn't

enough studying for you so it sounds

like you're getting a definite you know

a well-rounded experience in going

through these different rotational

programs I want to eventually get back

to you know how you determined that

psychiatry was an important aspect with

regard to diabetes and endocrinology but

for the time being I want to go back

kind of wine back to tape - you're kind

of growing up I heard and based off of

the article I read you grew up in

Houston really texting role as a massive

hotbed for football and

didn't you know how that kind of became

a passion for you and also to I that

into your diagnosis story as well sure

yeah so football was a major part of my

growing up and growing up in that state

you can't wait until you can play I

never played Pop Warner but I did you

know start as soon as it was offered my

middle school I came from a big football


I had a first cousin played in the NFL

office for some time I had a thing it's

cousin once-removed cousin from through

my mother who also played in the NFL

kind of back in the 70s so you know

through those two and then just sort of

like a general atmosphere very conducive

to playing football and I could go into

games as a kid seeing my cousin in books

and all my cousins playing and and just

kind of watching sports or my family

that's what we do we any sort of big

family event especially like

Thanksgiving yeah we're all watching

football that's would have given you

know what's now another pot takes about

the team's going on and I remember my

grandfather sitting at the breakfast

table was always watched reading the

sports section and the paper kind of

seeing what the local high schools were

doing as far as the records even without

knowing anybody on the team

this is kind of the that we grew up in

so as soon as deficits came for me to

play I was I was definitely there and I

just you know loved the sport from from

when I was a kid and get into play was

great for me and so actually with my

diagnosis of diabetes that football was

was pretty much kind of coinciding

because I'd only played a year before I

got my diagnosis I was diagnosed in the

fall of o4

during my eighth grade year and so that

was pretty much my first question you

know it was definitely a big shock to

get diagnosed and to kind of go through

it was a sort of healing and

understanding of what it means to be a

diabetic you know pretty soon after kind

of getting the overall course of what is

going to be my first question was can i

still play football

I've heard people who've gotten bad

answers as far as that but luckily my

patient said oh no you know you should

be able to keep playing and so it's

pretty much all I needed to know I think

I might have asked couple you know

eating and drinking questions from then

on but as long as I can still play I was

pretty much cool and sort of the

the act of playing and managing my

databases that's what been something

that you know still even if I'm done

playing and continue exercise is a big

part of my life and so I definitely will

always sort of relate my football career

and my diabetes because it's just it's

been it's had a lot of ups and downs but

it's also you know got me in touch and

got me to you know it enraged interact

so many cool people so kind of an a

blessing in disguise and back on my

front definitely I've repeatedly said tu

and D can certainly be a blessing in

disguise I wanted to talk to it I read

that your your mom was also a

pediatrician was that kind of part of

the process in terms of you not

necessarily being overwhelmed by the

diagnosis and not hearing one of those

doctors one of those horror stories

where the doctor says you know what

you're never gonna be able to play

sports again and how is she able to sort

of impact that diagnosis news yeah well

for one I got diagnosed really early as

far as horror stories I heard a lot of

stories where people basically you know

having to find the symptoms of diabetes

for years before they were actually

diagnosed I had the pretty classic

symptoms of having to urinate pretty

frequently and drink a lot of water

after about a week of that you know I

was already sort of in the clinic to be

to be tested from there so that was

probably the biggest blessing I didn't

have you know I didn't have like my

growth stunted or you know any other

kind of terrible side effects that

people who go a long time without being

diagnosed have and then yeah it

definitely was pretty helpful to have a

mother it was a pediatrician just

because she just sort of knew what was

going on and she was able to speak to

the doctors who are treating me and

conferred her peer to peer level and so

you know we were kind of fast-track our

way through some of the process and they

were very comfortable you know putting

my certain plants because they knew that

she was very kind of health literate

yeah there wasn't anything kind of lost

in translation one of the big things I

can kind of speak to not from the

provider standpoint is sort of making

sure that all the different aspects of

your chronic illness is going to be

understood and that's a that's a big

problem with people who who don't have

that luxury and you aren't as health

literate either you hear a lot of

misnomer is like oh well I'm allergic to

sugar or

I remember I treated a diabetic patient

the clinic once who was under pressure

he needed to eat every single time we

took insulin which obviously causes both

sugars to kind of constantly be sky-high

so I was able to avoid a lot of those

kind of misconceptions just because I

had a mother who was right there and you

could you know kind of interpret

everything that I had questions about


there certainly is a lot of

misinformation out there and you'll do a

search on google for diabetes and it's

not a lack of information by any means

but it's more you know an abundance and

an inundation of of you know yeah very

overwhelming yeah it's exactly it's

overwhelming quite um so in a very

diagnosis you're heading into high

school a time where you're certainly

taking in acting a little bit more

independently and I was diagnosed when I

was five years old so I grew up not

using by that point I had taken on a lot

of my care on my own and started doing

things independently whether it was

dealing with an insulin pump or

Techbridge are all things of that nature

but what was it like for you being

diagnosed in eighth grade and then kind

of transitioning into high school and

taking football a little bit more

seriously how was the burden of diabetes

at that point and how were you able to

maintain a stable level of blood sugar

as you were playing a pretty competitive

football yeah so there's a big part of

me that almost wishes I had gotten

diagnosed with it earlier so I could

have grown up with it like you did

because getting having the dice

diagnosed with diabetes right when

you're in that kind of rebellious phase

wasn't exactly the best thing for my

health again I sort of grew up with

football in diabetes but I had already

had plenty of growing up to do as an

almost 14 year old you know with it and

so you know definitely a lot of bad

habits as far as what I'd like to eat

and drink and you know a lot of sugary

sodas and pancakes and waffles and

doughnuts and all that kind of stuff as

far as what I like to do and so all the

sudden putting that to a halt you know I

think I was able to come to grips with

it right away but you know as time goes

on and you're a little more used to the

diagnosis you know some of those old

habits sort of pop up yeah I mean the

honest truth of it is I didn't really do

that great of a job of controlling in

high school you know a lot of it has to

do with sort of that health literacy

we're talking about earlier and so I

actually went to

boarding school during my 10th grade

years so I was I was home in the 8th

grade in ninth grade and we believe

we've moved around we moved from Houston

to this town called Carbondale Illinois

which is about an hour and half two

hours away from st. Louis Missouri but

on the Illinois side you know I played

with diabetes in Houston in eighth grade

and in Carbondale ninth grade but I

transferred schools for academic reasons

to a boarding school in Connecticut

called child rosemary hall and from that

point I was on my own so I'm at this

point I've only been diagnosed for a

couple of years it's still relatively

new as far as you know so when you think

about the rest of my life in comparison

to these two years with diabetes and so

my yeah the truth of it was my my

control wasn't great because as why

diabetics know as far as if you had to

aim one way you know being low is very

uncomfortable you feel weak you have all

these symptoms of sweating and again

weakness hunger sort of in an inability

kind of concentrate and it's very scary

so if you had to kind of in the short

term you know think about which way

you're going to lean I was going to lean

high and so you know I certainly didn't

have the kind of thought process clarity

that I would like to have and you know

maybe I was getting dry mouth and having

a urine a little more frequently but I

would sort of take that because it meant

I wouldn't have to stop playing and I

didn't have you know an extensive

coaching staff the training staff that

was acutely aware what was going on

again because you know while a lot of

people have you know type-2 diabetes not

a lot of people have dealt with type 1

diabetes associated our athletic level

and so I would you know rather be sky

high autumn was sky high you know which

is definitely like I could have played a

lot better I could have been a lot less

fatigued I remember just I played on

both sides of the ball in high school

both offense and defense such a tight

entity defensive end and I would just

crumble during halftime and just you

know try to drink as much water as

possible just cause little fatigue

either from just you know playing so

much and at the time you know being

having a high blood sugar and as long as

I just kind of waved off

anyone who asked questions no one would

really kind of interpret further it

wasn't great and when my a1c came back

as I they did

by my mom who again as a pediatrician

definitely had a lot of concern and even

threatened to pull me out of school to

bring me back home so she can watch over

and all that kind of stuff and I was

able to just kind of you know say it'll

get better get better get better and you

know luckily sort of towards the end

there especially in college they had a

lot more kind of training staff than it

did finally get better than I was able

to sort of find a routine I worked but

for a lot of high school I was perfectly

content with being out of control

which is why which is a big kind of

motivator into doing what I'm doing now

to help fellow athletes especially

teenage athletes sort of avoid the

mistakes that I made yeah I wanted to

ask I actually had on the podcast a

couple episodes ago a quarterback from

who is just graduated from Columbia and

we were talking about whether his t1d

had come up in the recruiting process

and I also played collegiate football in

it it didn't for me and it didn't for

him which was kind of it wasn't that we

were actively trying to hide it or

anything like that you know he just

didn't come up and I wanted to get your

take you know you're in boarding school

in Connecticut being looked at by some

top programs and obviously I'm in jail

but what was that recruiting process

like and you know where the coaches

aware the Yale coaches that you were

battling t1d at this point I think I had

a similar experience you guys it didn't

really come up I it wasn't that I hate

it either but I also wasn't going to

like volunteer that information

especially early on you know I think the

first time I sort of brought it up might

have been either kind of just before I

arrived and maybe as I arrived just

because I didn't it you know it can get

kind of tricky I didn't want to you know

have them be scared away but again it

wasn't really but in general my attitude

about diabetes in high school wasn't one

that was forthright with it but if you

were to ask me questions about it I

would also you know go ahead and

volunteer that information but my

general sort of persona with diabetes is

kind of I'll have the clip on my pump

but I won't wear it outside of my pants

I was kind of in my pants pocket you

know I'll have I'll check my blood sugar

not like you know in a dark alley

somewhere but I'll do it relatively

discretely you know and I'll answer I'll

give myself insulin but relatively

discreetly I just I'm not one to bring

attention to

and it wasn't until basically in college

and people ask me specific questions

about it and then later wrote about it

that I realized people cared in that way

I didn't really see the benefit of kind

of you know being a little more present

a little more vocal about it you know

just because there's so many other

people who were going through it as well

my attitude was always just sort of you

know fit in keep it rolling and and

don't this is doesn't make a scene and

so as those recruiting that's sort of

what it was what it was well I I

wouldn't hide the information but I

certainly didn't bring it up and if they

didn't they never really asked me about

it any two schools that were so I was

talking to me seriously and recruiting

me it didn't really come up in that

pocket either so so I got to ask you get

to Yale you're playing Division 1


eh what was that transition like and be

how do you sort of think back on those

times where there's weather things you

could do could have done from a diabetes

standpoint to have substantially

improved your treatment and you kind of

made it sound like it was while you were

at Yale that it was sort of a turnaround

times of getting that management really

dialed in most definitely yeah so I'll

talk about what the transition like with

the lowest active and then again kind of

circle back to what it was from a bad

news management's perspective it was

overwhelming boy we is so from so many

different aspects like my my school at

the time is small and they're actually a

little bit better now as far as taking

the football program seriously but when

I was enrolled there it wasn't taken

nearly as seriously I as far as like a

playbook especially like offensively and

defensively weebly didn't have much so I

moved to I was recruited deals as a

tight end at first so just looking at

this extensive playbook and knowing all

the different run blocking and pass

routes was I always call it like it was

football calculus like I was going from

maybe Algebra one altitude just like

straight up BC calculus right in you

know in the day so that was incredibly

overwhelming just I was pretty good at

my high school

again I'll starting both ways and all

the captain and you know football came

relatively easy to me and then to just

go to

vigilant program where it came easy to

everyone else and everyone else had

always accolades you people who were you

know mr. football Gatorade players of

the year in the States you know all

state all this you know people at Yale's

is interesting because you have a mix of

folks who you know Yale was the biggest

program that that offered them and also

folks who you know offered by you know

major programs I think we had guys are

offered by a lot of military academies

by Stanford and some other kind of

big-time schools Notre Dame as well as

transfers from big programs as well we

had a few from Boise from UCLA from

Nebraska and so just sort of getting

around people who you know you're all of

a sudden not the big fish and small pond

quite the opposite I just remember us

the first day we had workouts we're in

the gym and again used to a small

setting worked out a little bit in high

school that didn't really have to as

much I'm kind of a bigger guy naturally

and pretty athletic so I've kind of

gotten by without like really taking

there lifting all that seriously and you

know there's just hard rock pumping

through the speakers and all these guys

who are much bigger and struggling they

just single pushing weights with chains

and you know this guy's jump rope and

ferociously hair flying in the wind I

just oh it will always remember that

kind of opening scene plus because it

was a small school I was on a small team

and so you know I'm used to you know my

football team only being you know maybe

3040 guys and all sudden there's a

hundred and ten of these again big

aggressive men you know grunting and

pushing weights and everything and I'm

just like wow what did I sign up for

this is nothing that I can this is that

I'm familiar with at all so yeah I would

say from that moment to the traveler in

the playbook to go down the field and

just you know just seeing all these

superior athletes it was a lot but you

know luckily after that initial shock of

a initial season I kind of progressed

myself and got used to it and luckily

type of pave laughs molitor success so

at the same time dealing with all this

transits right on field on the gridiron

it sounds like your aspirations as an MD

and it is someone who essentially give

back to the d1d community Pro medical

community and point kind of solidified

so talk to us about what kind of spark

for you yeah so I'll start out with

again just sort of going through how my

management got better and kind of talked

about that process as well so again high

school everything will sort of put on my

shoulders I could tell the coach

whatever you're not tell them I tell

them I'm low tell them good and they can

take my word for it and keep moving but

in college

thankfully they took very good care and

took a lot of effort into like look you

know checking my blood sugar and not

just taking my word for what I said it

was yeah and and kind of helped me to

manage it so you know came in with sort

of a similar picture of really high

blood sugars and and then sitting me out

if I was to hire checking ketones things

like that so we were able to kind of

work it down to where I was a lot more

comfortable playing at you know lower

levels closer to what's more normal and

then also in my play you know just sort

of took off and so I do sort of regret

not having that same insight but you

know I also remember I was like 15 16

years old so it's I I forgive myself for

not being stringent but yes once once I

had you know I literally would have like

a month so Yale has the local so

Quinnipiac University is there as well

and so we have the benefit of having a

lot of student trainers and so they

would always get student trainer with me

with things to help me helpless here

increase if I was low wear you know what

kind of get on me if it was too high or

check my ketones again so kind of that

like one on one you know major attention

that a Division one program can afford

especially one that has a partnership

with student trainers was really helpful

and so once I was able to you know sort

of work with and also like my script my

experience of conditioning coach and

well Johnson was a big help as well and

so you know having kind of all these

different interested parties helped me

gain better control was super important

and I was able to kind of find model

success and so this end trends

transitioned into so I started my junior

year of colleges that I've been moved

from tied into quite tackle and so as a

returning starter my senior year the

local press was sort of doing profiles

on people who are returning and kind of

getting the story and I sort of

mentioned casually that that I had

diabetes and that had been you know one

of the better elements of my college

experience is kind

getting that under tighter control and

having a lot of system playing field as

a result and that sort of became the you

know main kind of crux of the story and

from there I just was inundated with you

know Facebook messages and emails from

people who had read it you know asking

for help and you know one wanted me to

talk to their sons and daughters and

that's when it sort of clicked that

because I always such as my mother being

a pediatrician she never you know

necessarily wanted me to also be a

doctor but I was sort of I guess

accustomed to the medicine in general

just you know from osmosis essentially

and that's because of my own diagnosis I

was I became kind of more interested in

the human body and kind of the few

bodies physiologic processes so I kind

of went into the high school mostly

college like kind of thinking medicine

and kind of taking pre-med classes but

you know from that point prior to the

story being read and people reaching out

to me I always kind of call myself like

it like a passive free bed like I was

doing yet I was going through the

motions but I really didn't have an idea

of how I wanted to go and if I would

really continue if I would be like jump

to move that finance or consulting or

some other type of steel that a lot of

my Yale's classmates were doing but once

again I the story was written about me

and a lot of people then reached out to

me that was I guess my account white

bulb moment and that was when I realized

okay I really have something to add you

know something to give out my story is

important and you know people really

look to me to sort of help them and

that's something that I really

registered with me nothing that became

really important to me and so it was

really that moment that box I wasn't

even my medical application was even

close to ready I hadn't taken the MCAT

which is necessary for admission or

anything but I knew that I was going to

go into healthcare and I was going to do

my part you know whether it be from like

a start up process or you know health

consulting that's when I decided to go

into public health as well I knew that

healthcare and then eventually the

suspect in the diabetic community was

going to be my life plan and so that

really sort of solidified my medical

goals and I kind of went from there so

while at Yale and you mentioned a

different kind of sub-sectors there but

was there an idea that you had in mind

and we're like a you know a vision that

you had in mind in terms of alright I

want to solve like a certain

inefficiency you know in the healthcare

market or I'd like to give back to the

community in this specific way or was it

more just a general I'd like to give

back you know my stories resonated

clearly with the community and that was

kind of the arrest and going forward now

through your residency's and dialing

into a specialty has that sort of

solidified for you at all in terms of

you know what your specific vision is

for helping the t1d community yeah so

it's definitely been an evolving

question I would say once this once I

realized the story resonated that sort

of became something and then actually

this guy named Charlie O'Connell who

runs cuckoo zone formerly fitscript out

in New Haven also reached out to me and

I had a lot of good conversation with

him about how safe certain heart rates

can impact how your blood glucose is

affected by certain exercise which then

kind of helped me also further tighten

down my control and and so yeah I would

answer the question as one does

definitely helped the community once I

realized that with Charlie that there

was a market efficiency in using

exercise as a way to control your blood

glucose that then became part of my part

of my goal part of my life plan and then

taking it into medicine I can kind of

further expand upon it as not just

helping diabetes however I can in

incorporating exercise but I first you

know wanted to go into endocrinology

realized that wasn't sort of overall

feel to me and now we kind of say well I

want to incorporate both exercise and

mental health as far as how to best help

the community so

you know as far as how exactly all those

playing you know deficits or playing

around some ideas they are definitely

all sort of connected and it's been sort

of fun to watch it all unfold in front

of my eyes because everything I've done

thus far as far as school has needed

kind of a step so I haven't really

needed the exact plan thus far but the

more steps I take you know the deeper I

get into this process and and now as a

you know fourth year student going into

actually my residency and becoming an MD

I'm able to

use more the resources afforded me to

find exactly you know how these things

sort of play and play a part because

it's been shown that exercise can help

diabetes this show the exercise can help

your mental health and so I think that

is obviously a clear sort of linear line

of how an exercise can affect both you

know in my opinion live your diabetes

management and other kind of chronic

health management has a lot less to do

with like you're the medical biological

understanding and more just like how can

you form better habits and how it can be

feel better about the management that we

do and the way we treat ourselves and

the way we feel about ourselves and so

that's that's kind of becoming a picture

that's making make itself to me more

clear and honestly it's just is usually

exciting to get to this point and kind

of see where where it takes me it's

exciting man yeah I think you know

exercise especially for diabetics but

otherwise you know other chronic

illnesses is exercise is one of the most

a neglected treatments in terms of

preventing diseases but at the same time

you know especially for diabetics one of

the most cost effective and cheap I

guess if you want to call it like drugs

or treatments that you can take in terms

of getting more stable blood sugar

levels but over the yes and so

prescribing yeah well does I want to

stop there every second yeah prescribing

exercise is something that's like

relatively new but we are starting to

see it a little bit and so I definitely

want to be on the forefront you know I

know for me kind of anecdotally having a

strong kind of baseline exercise level

from sports or just sort of my active

life otherwise if I'm not able to

exercise I do feel worse about myself

and my blood Sugar's are just you know

automatically in less control I think I

become a little bit insulin resistant

and so you know you really see in myself

like like clear examples of power we can

kind of better your control and sort of

better your thought process in general

in your fields in general yeah I think

there are some really cool developments

that are kind of about to be ushered in

in this next wave of innovation that

package exercise along with the it's

funny you mentioned glucose own I think

I just came across them a few days ago

but that app based almost gamification

of exercise in terms of being a

prescriptive treatment for diabetics and

people of with other chronic illnesses

as well that's really kind of an

exciting new wave of innovation

in the field of medicine yeah that's a

good way to kind of better the access

that's sort of my public health

background and sort of another kind of

michigan psychiatry i want to increase

access for those who aren't able to get

it you know it's no secret that it can

be hard to see your your provider as all

because you would like or people come

from you know hours away to see the

doctor and obviously the cost and

consequent up and up and so i think

using technology especially apps and

other sort devices in order to kind of

be that filler and really you know take

the place of novels are not replaced

obviously but the kind of augment rather

some of the care that you're getting

from your doctor's office is really

important so you know from someone who's

now on the provider side i feel like

that's a it's a new wave of intervention

that i want to be a part of and i'm

excited to kind of see where the sort of

feel is but where the feel the whole

goes so is there a thing a single thing

that you can kind of look at over the

course of your time at yale and also

your residency's as well that has kind

of been the most important discovery for

you and this could be in terms of your

own diabetic treatment but also it could

be kind of more broadly about the

community as well mmm

a question most important thing i would

say my most important as far as my

diabetes treatment especially in the

face of exercise and football it's just

being comfortable being at a lower

glucose level you know i think a lot of

people are just again it putted harkens

back to where i felt in high school

where I was fine being in the 200s even

with 300 sometimes just because I just

didn't want to go low and so you know on

that front I would say two things a a

routine was probably like my biggest

help especially in the context of

college dividual in football where I

kind of know what the schedule is I know

what we're eating

you know the developing routine was

insanely helpful just because there's

going to be so many variables as far as

how tired you are and what type of kind

of general life events happen that can

impact your blood sugar so just kind of

controlling what you can control and at

least having a handle on that was super

important and then again just being

comfortable being closer to the normal

level so for me personally

I like to play between like 1:30 and 1 7

which for a lot of people when they

first are dealing with diabetes and

exercise is a little bit lower than

they're comfortable being you know I

know some people that run marathons

you know below the level of 100 so I

never got there my college career I

don't mind sometimes being a little bit

lower you know that's the states aren't

as high and if I have to you know take a

second from exercise I'm not you know

disappointing thousands of fans and the

rest of my team oh but but it it

definitely is something that I think a

lot of diabetics have to kind of get

over that fear and operate at a lower

glucose level but you know what you get

back as far as energy and mental clarity

and kind of overall fitness and this is

just monumental at those lower levels as

opposed to at the higher one so that

that was kind of my biggest revelation

along with again just being very

regimented because you know both those

together so it was what was a big

breakthrough for me yeah it's funny you

say that I mean I also had a training

staff that was really on me especially

my senior year terms of making sure that

I was between 80 and I don't remember

what the upper range was but they would

hold me out for 15 minutes if I went

below 80 and sure it was it was

certainly high stakes but in terms of my

own did the pressure I put on myself

once I started doing internships and

getting into corporate settings and it

was almost like any more high stakes

then and I definitely know you when it

comes to erring on the side of caution

to a fault so I would say I'm not going

to go low and I would end up writing the

whole day between 170 and in 220 and of

course you know that that sounds fine

juxtaposed to crashing at 50 or 60 but

over the course of time as you can

certainly attest to you know through

your through your studies that can be

very few Julie detrimental in terms of

long term complication so I definitely

think there's there's a an argument to

be made for trying to kind of get

outside your comfort zone in and ride a

little bit and in either of us are

talking about driving our numbers down

into the low 70s or anything like that

but right right

hundred as opposed to you know like 150

160 and I think like you said in the

moment you'll definitely feel better but

extrapolate that over thirty or forty or

fifty years then you're talking about it

serious improvements in terms of your

like long-term health but I wanted to

and where did you put Carnegie Mellon

so it was Division three and offer okay

not quite the level of Yale but I was

looking at a few Ivy League schools but

um it goes apart and I'm a 5/8 running

back so sure sure

ultimately just they were saying too

small to play at that level but ya know

it was an awesome

I don't awesome time and as I'm sure you

know it's it's tough walking away from

it is my first August with their

football so I'm definitely mid missing

the games and feeling washed up sucks

but uh I want it they say app is bad two

times and I definitely understand that

benefit comes from oh yeah not stuff but

uh I wanted to go back to there was a

phrase that I read about in your article

and it was sudden change and it kind of

sounded like I was a bit of a rallying

cry for you and that you've been able to

apply that to your life and you know not

only in athletic context but also with

regard to your diabetes can you talk

about you know how you apply that to

your life yeah so son change like isn't

that monumental of a phrase but it

definitely is just super applicable and

and even though you know you kind of

hear oh well the past is the past or you

know kind of keep in mind forward just

that phrase just knowing that phrase and

then it was always in context of three

air horn whistles for us and so the

context that wasn't in football was we

would be in the middle of individual you

know where for the audience you're kind

of working on like individual skills you

might be in some sort of you know team

or or some other kind of activity and

then all of a sudden you hear those

three sounds they would tell a feel that

we were all spreading to we would go and

it would be you know some sort of

quote-unquote life-or-death situation

like you know fourth and one on the

one-yard line to win the game or so and

the whole thing which is sort of keep us

on our toes and to not get flustered by

the fact that we were you know doing

something that has been totally

different as you can imagine that

really kind of comes into play a lot of

times in life in general especially

diabetes so I've noticed in general it

was something that we thought was kind

of on the coronary side at the time

however we did buy into it especially

just because it happened you know all

the time to practice and then work out

some things not everyone sort of has

that mindset and I sort of experienced

that you know people people do get

flustered and people do waste a lot of

time so complaining about wiring

situation is that it's you know kind of

going forth making the best of it and

that's sort of diabetes you know in a

nutshell in diabetes with diabetes

rather you'll be doing all sorts of

activities whether it be studying or

exercising or just sort of trying to

kind of lay low and your your blood

sugar will tell you all of a sudden you

need to do something about this you know

maybe you have a kink in your insulin

pump and your blood sugars are just


even though union pholis multiple time

Corrections or you know maybe you know

you're using pens and your erotic

needles all of a sudden and you're set

no way of getting it or for whatever

reason you're you're maybe a little more

active very little more stressed out you

just shoot down out of nowhere so you

have two options you can you can sit

there and you could be you can pout

about the fact that you know you're

crashing down into the 50s you know on a

date or that you just want to you know

sit back and watch the game at home and

all of a sudden you're you know just

rooted to the 400s or you can just sort

of you know accept the reality situation

and do something about it and then also

you know important they kind of learn

from the situation so that's that's

generally how I apply that sudden change

to my diabetic life by you know don't

spend a lot of time lamenting over the

fact of the situation I'm in I'm trying

to think back about what got me here

maybe I skip breakfast or maybe I you

know spent a day too late the same

injection site and I should have change

it out and I kind of going to make that

mental note for the next time and then

go ahead and go about my business you

know luckily we are at the point with

our medications and in sort of the

advancements and diabetes that you know

you can pretty easily make adjustments

and kind of figure out what was wrong

and that's kind of part of the

regimented schedule out that is

important as well because you don't want

to be making sudden changes every single

time of your exercise service all the

time you have something important to do

you don't want to be in the corporate


if we have a big meeting and just

crashing for absolutely no reason you

know you want to kind of learn from your

mistakes and find out ways to generally

avoid them so keeping the regiment is

schedule to avoid the sudden changes but

when they come take it in stride and

making the best situation is sort of

really important to you know my overall

success both isn't actually as a

diabetic event as a picture doctor -

yeah no it's diabetes is a constant

learning process and you know anytime

you start to get too complacent with

your care and you're like alright I've

got a good n1c well I'm super stable I

got my CGM going to my phone and great

and sudden you're in rash or you have

one of the situation like you said where

you have a kink in the pump and it's you

know it seems like t1d can crop up at

the most inconvenient of times like you

said on a date or some before so for

sure kind of like Murphy's Law on that

on that front but um I was going to ask

you what your message was more broadly

to the t1d community and you kind of

answered that you always ready to adapt

to any situation because most definitely

unlike athletics there's no schedule to

t1d and it's always going to be there

but at the same time you don't have to

attach these negative emotions to a

certain high or low or a certain event

you just have to be constantly learning

I agree with that totally yeah it's not

really again yeah you don't don't get

too emotional about it but just learn

from it like you would any other

situations diabetes or not and try to

make the best of it and you know people

can be understanding and as long as sort

of educate the folks around you but it

also I would say as part of the message

to you know don't be embarrassed a bunch

situation you didn't put it upon

yourself okay is this sort of is what it

is and you know as become kind of more

health leader as the culture you know

people tend to be more understanding and

you know ultimately it's important for

your own health so sometimes we do have

to kind of take a step back but if

you're prepared for it if you have you

know snacks if you're low and if you

have alternate sources of insulin you

know you'll find yourself in less those

kind of embarrassing or inopportune

moments and you'll be able to kind of

ride through it but you know I recommend

everyone again I think you sort of have

a similar background with me I never hid

it but also wasn't as vocal about it but

you should be you know it doesn't have

to be a look at me type of situation but

you find people being a lot more

compassionate when they have kind of a

heads up and and advance notice so you

can kind of get a lot of those gears out

especially socially if everyone knows

what's going on and you're not really

embarrassed you're able to sort of

handle your situation as you need to be

and then you know again learn from it so

it doesn't happen the same way again

that's been really helpful for me and I

think I told some sort of s your

audience - perfect alright Roy well I

don't want to keep you too long because

you're a very busy guy I think you have

some time to yourself tonight but um

again thank you so much for coming on I

know I can speak for myself when I say

appreciate you going into the you know

the medical profession field and trying

to give back to this community on the

provider side hopefully we see you're

doing amazing things for the t1d

community and and you know the broader

community overall as a doctor so thank

you again man I appreciate appreciate

you inviting me automatic rate time

talking yeah go t1d really I'm Roy

Collins I have t1d

and I have a game play


we hope you enjoyed this episode of the

game plan to und podcast for related

content please visit

Sage Donnelly Show Notes

0:02 / 41:12

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 7 - Sage Donnelly



Sam Benger

Published on Sep 17, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D athlete Sage Donnelly. A diagnosis of T1D at age 3 did nothing to slow down Donnelly as she grew up skiing, rock climbing, and being incredibly active, but she found her calling in kayaking. Now a Jr. Freestyle World Champion, Donnelly has her sights set on the Olympics. Join us today for a powerful story of positivity in the face of adversity.



what's up everybody Sam bender here

welcome back and for our first time

listeners welcome to the game plant t1d

podcast for today's episode I was lucky

enough to be able to sit down with

junior freestyle kayak world champ and

Olympic hopeful sage Donnelly we covered

a number of important and fascinating

topics during our talk today and I'm

excited to share it with you before we

get started I just wanted to highlight

we have a new I have a game plan blog

series which highlights athletes of all

levels and is another fantastic

spotlight on t1d all-stars who are just

crushing it right now these articles are

written by the athletes themselves so it

gives an authentic look into their life

with diabetes Joe give the articles a

look on the game plan t1d website

sometime soon so without any further ado

please enjoy my conversation with sage

Donnelly all right well with that

welcome to the game plan to und podcast

I'm your host Sam bender we have a great

conversation coming up today that I'm

super excited for with us on the show

today we have stage donnelly sage how

are you doing I'm good how are you doing

fantastic so for our audience members

who haven't done a little bit of

background research on you like I have

kind of talked to us about just what

your background is as a diabetic athlete

well I was diagnosed with type 1

diabetes when I was 3 years old which

was the same age as my grandpa so we

kind of thought coming a little bit and

then I started whitewater kayaking in a

two-person boat with my dad when I was 2

and sort of running rivers in my own

boat when I was 5 those kind of raised

doing that as well and I've just been

super outdoors in my whole life I

started rock climbing before I can

remember skiing and then when I was 7 I

started competing and kayaking and kind

of decided to switch more towards that

and now that's pretty much all I do yeah

if you guys want to be just blown away

by a diabetic athlete who is crushing it

right now go check out sages Instagram

and she

has some just crazy stuff posted on

there I was looking through there

briefly before we go I'm on the call and

you got a particular run I think in

North Carolina posted where it's just

this looks like a 10 or 15 foot drop not

a river I guess to get to that point you

got to start young to be helping to be

okay with with drops like that but talk

to us a little bit about getting started

I was reading on your site that not only

are you an avid kayaker but you also do

stand-up paddleboarding rock climbing

you were skiing double diamonds at the

age of five apparently was this do you

think a result of your family saying

okay you were diagnosed at age three we

want to make sure you're active and

that's going to be sort of an effort to

combat the diabetes or was it just

naturally something that you were really

passionate about and that your family

was really passionate about well you

know honestly I think it was more of

like we're not going to let diabetes

stop us from being active because we've

just been my parents were super active

they actually met rock climbing learned

how to kite for their honeymoon so

they've been super active their whole

life as well and then they just kind of

were raising me just doing that like

they were and then that was kind of

thrown at us and we just rolled with it

I mean I don't obviously remember very

much of it at first because those three

but we just rolled with it and kind of

made it work and just kept being active

and doing what we love mmm in stage

talked about doing skiing doing rock

climbing doing these different things

how was it that kayaking kind of became

your central focus in in main passion

going forward as an athlete oh that's a

hard question I'm not really sure I mean

I just kind of fell in love with it like

I said I started at a super young age

and there's just this amazing feeling

you get from going down like I mean when

I was younger I wasn't doing super hard

stuff but uh I'm just going down a river

going over waves and my family made it

always like a family event like when I

was super young up in Reno my dad and I

would go up just by ourselves we would

actually bike our own shuttles

so we would leave the car at the bottom

of the

Riverrun and then weed he would run and

I would bike up to the top where gear

was waiting we'd lock the bike up and

then we'd paddle down and drive back up

to get it so it was always just super

fun just something I always really

looked forward to and then at one point

was like that I want to learn how to

roll my boat back up right that was when

I was about six turning seven and then

after that I was like well I can roll

now so I might as well start competing

pretty much because I'd always wanted to

do it like we had gone to Colorado for a

couple years in a row just watching the

competitions there and then doing our

own just fun kayaking

I was also chosen there's a used to be a

system for the Reno River Festival where

you would paddle with the pros so they

would select like four people to paddle

with some pro kayakers and kind of learn

how to kayak better and to compete in

the Reno River Festival so I was

selected for that I think that was

actually my first freestyle competition

so it's like pretty much gymnastics in

the water while we're surfing a wave and

after that it just kind of took off

those like and I really like your

feeding I love doing this like I want to

learn how to front flip and then I just

kept wanting to learn more and more and

here I have this that's amazing yeah so

try to try to level with our audience

for a second here because my only

experience kayaking outside of on like a

very still body of water is I tried to

take my kayak out in the ocean one time

when I was like flipped and hit me in

the head and I was crying so how was

there any ever fear when you were

getting started you know what we talked

about these like massive drops that

you're doing and stuff like that was

there any ever fear and getting started

or trepidation or was it always like

bring on that that was the next class of

like a lot of fear my dad my dad has

worked with me there's so much of just

like standing at the top of a rapid

looking at it and just being super

scared because I mean there are

consequences of course to everything but

one of our rules was or my parents rules

and they never put me on something that

I didn't have the skills for so I was

always like ahead in my skill level like

I knew I could do it but it also is

scary because you know if you do mess it

up there could be consequences but it

was always a super safe environment

set safety my dad would actually break

it down for me so it was like a rapid we

break it into like sections they're like

okay so what's the worst thing that's

going to happen here

well I'll flip and what's going to

happen I'll roll up and then after that

and you kind of realize okay that's the

worst that can happen it got a lot

easier and then I'd eventually just like

okay I'm running it and I go but I mean

there was definitely a lot of standing

around talking about it being scared and

working through it of course that I mean

and I mean I still get scared like I've

hunted some Big Rapids and the bigger

they are the more consequences there are

and you just kind of have to either go

okay I want to run this or you know what

maybe today is not my day and I mean

it's just picking your paddles and

deciding if you're feeling it or not and

if you're not feeling it it's it's okay

to not do it of course but I mean I

usually end up doing it just because

it's so fun and I want to but yeah yeah

the deceleration Trump's the fear but

actually just about a week ago watch

this awesome video where this little

girl she must not have been older than

my eight or ten did this massive

downhill ski jump

so it shows her at the top and she's

like alright here we go it was her first

time they bumped up like from a 20 foot

jumped like a 40 foot jump and it it's

out of that same thing where it's like

if you can be realistic about what's the

worst that can actually happen she's

like it's just like and you the video

shows her talking to herself before she

goes just like it's just like a 20 foot

jump but just a little bit longer so

it's really about how you frame the

challenge that you're going into I think

this is really the perfect segue into

talking about your diabetes diagnosis

and we've talked about you getting

started with kayaking and competing in

that talk to us about how you were

getting started as a competitor but at

the same time managing that additional

burden of being a diabetic yeah so my

parents kind of raised me after I was

diagnosed to kind of just not really

treat it as a burden it just treated as

part of life on investment quality I try

to keep still to this day and I mean it

does get hard obviously like I'll have

training sessions where I get super low

and I won't be able to move pretty much

and all office

which is super frustrating and stuff

like that but I mean I've always just

kind of thought of it as something that

just makes me stronger and I've never

let it stop me from reaching my goals I

mean we just take extra precautions

obviously like we always have juice

around when I'm training or competing

we're constantly checking my blood sugar

I beseech EMS we're always looking at

that and making sure the numbers are

correct and I mean it's a lot of

preparation but like I said it's just

it's just part of my life and I don't

like to think of it this burden I really

think that's the the correct frame of

mind and mindset to approach type 1

diabetes with so I just turned 23 just

graduated college and I think I'm just

now starting to appreciate how diabetes

can be advantageous from not only mental

resilience and strength standpoint but

you know being part of the the larger

t1d community as well I think has

benefits but it sounds like you from a

young age been raised to to look at your

diabetes as something that makes you

stronger was that always the case and

talk about how you were able to kind of

reframe or frame from the start your

diabetes in a positive light well I mean

I think it was honestly kind of easier

for me to frame it in a positive light

because I was diagnosed so young so my

parents instantly which is like okay

this is good

we're fine we've got this and just like

constantly building me up and so like I

said I don't really remember a whole lot

when I was diagnosed just remember the

needles but I mean that's just kind of

always the mentality we've taken and I

mean when you're diagnosed so young it's

a lot you didn't do that but I mean even

to this day I still have like hard time

it's definitely a really bad feeling to

have to stop a training session

especially in slalom whitewater kayaking

which is the sport I'm going for the

going up trying to go for in the 2020

Olympics we only have one hour training

slots allotted to us so if you get low

in one of those it's pretty much your

training sessions done and I mean I've

had a few breakdowns during that when I

get low and I have to stop and eat and

drink and it's not a great feeling but

you kind of just have to take a step

back and go like I'm still training and

working my butt off

with this disease and I'm not letting it

stop me and that automatically just

makes me ten times better than a normal

person just doing this so you kind of

have to it sounds really arrogant but

you come out to build yourself up a

little bit you know absolutely I

understand where you're coming from with

the frustration and my senior year our

training staff and I was I played

college football but if I was below 80

during a game I would have to sit out 15


oh-ho and there's also a football game

and you know you're like man I just want

to get back out there but at the same

time it's ultimately for our safety

exactly similar similar to usage I was

diagnosed when I was five years old so I

I do remember that the syringes as well

in the shots but um I didn't know

anything other than being a diabetic

growing up and I think that is

definitely advantageous because I was

just focus it was you know this is life

for me but type one diabetes the average

age of diagnosis I've heard recently is

14 years old so I think both of us have

have learned just by growing up and as a

result of the age of our diagnosis we

can you know appreciate how we're we're

better for having diabetes but for

someone that's diagnosed at that average

age say 14 15 years old do you have any

tips for them say John on how they can

work to appreciate diabetes and not look

at it as a burden I mean it's definitely

hard but try to be consistent in just

correcting your mindset like every time

you're like oh I can't do this right

because my diabetes just say no you know

what I can't do this if I prepare

correctly and I set things up correctly

I can do this and you know sometimes and

we'll work out sometimes you'll go too

low sometimes to go too high when it

gets to that point you just have to take

a deep breath and say you know what I am

doing what I love and just because I

have this disease doesn't mean that it's

going to stop me you just got to kind of

roll with it and just do your best and

there's going to be times where it feels

awful I have your body wants to just

stop but you just have to push through

it like I said just really being

consistent and just not letting it stop

you and trying to keep as positive as

you can I definitely

agree with that and I think when we're

talking about framing your diabetes it's

not just like this flip that switches

and I think that might be a

misconception that some people have and

they're like well I just can't flip that

switch and appreciate what I'm dealing

with with you know the highs and lows

that come with diabetes but I think for

me it's it's really about small

victories and I actually just read a

book recently it's called bright spots

and landmines by Adam Brown and he's a

diabetic and he talks about different

small actionable steps that people can

take to frame their pot their diabetes

in a positive light and one of the big

things he talked about is numbers and I

think numbers are such a can be an

emotional touch point where if if you're

not on a CGM and you're doing finger

sticks and you check and you're like I

was feeling good but I was 250 and then

you're like oh man 250 what did I do to

mess this up what is this doing for my

long-term health and you can kind of

spiral down but what Adam talks about in

his book is just take a number for what

it is if you're 250 correct to bring

yourself down into range and don't

attach any emotional baggage to that

number is that something that you that

sort of resonates with you

that's definitely resonates with me

that's a really good idea actually I

kind of do that but I don't realizing it

but now that you say that that actually

is really smart and yeah I mean it is

hard to do that of course but my whole

way that I try to take any part of my

mental side if it's diabetes or

competing is just consistency like

consistently reminding yourself to be

positive and that's a big team and I

have to do in my life but I'm getting

better at it so mm-hmm

yeah it's definitely even I think even

for us you know there are days when you

struggle obviously and it's not it's not

all good it's not all bad but it's a

process like you said as long as you can

be consistent in and kind of ring the

bell and show up every day to that and

kind of face up to your diabetes then

you're absolutely on the right path but

I wanted to talk to you about sort of

current schedule I was looking again at

your Instagram you Poland Russia or in

Slovakia you're traveling all around the

world tell us a little bit about your

current training schedule and also maybe

we can dive into how you manage your

diabetes with so much travel

yeah so this is actually my seventeenth

day home this year 2018

I started in December 31st I was two

months in New Zealand and Australia for

winter training and then I was home for

six days got in my car with my dog drove

out to North Carolina was there for

about two months and then drove to

Georgia for like a week and then drove

to Colorado for three weeks four weeks

and then right after that I didn't even

go home it was straight from the car we

parked my car at my friend's house onto

a plane to Europe where I've been for

the last three months

competing pretty much every weekend holy

cow happen for that was for audience

where is where is home base for you

Carson City Nevada okay

nearly quavo Reno so you're flying every

which way out of Nevada New Zealand you

said how does I because I've always

found for me when I travel especially

flying in you know you're around

different environments different foods

that can complicate maintaining a stable

level of blood sugar what do you do to

try to maintain that I'm sure you have a

system with like you only being home 17

days a year yeah yeah definition of a

jetsetter at this point so how do you

even come go about maintaining a good

level of blood sugar and maintaining

your diabetes well when I am stuck in a

car for five days or on a plane for 16

hours it's honestly just a lot of

insulin like I had to pump up my Basil's

well now I'm on a Medtronic continues

because closed-loop system so don't pump

up my Basil's but if I I like back in

the day I only got on this this year I

used to have to pump up my Basil's

sometimes usually 20% but sometimes even

50% and then Bullough seen you have two

bullets when you eat food yes two

bullets like extra early like hours

Ebola scene 30 minutes early before I

could eat I'm just trying not to get my

blood Sugar's high because I am so

active um whenever I'm not working out

my blood Sugar's just go crazy see yeah

it's just a lot of insulin Ilana

pre-planning for traveling and then it

is hard especially like going

up into Australian stuff with different

suits but over the the years you kind of

get used to guessing carbs and

everything and you know sometimes it

works out sometimes it doesn't you just

kind of to roll with it and go oh next

time I eat that food I probably should

give more insulin or maybe less and it's

just kind of a guessing game omus but

you know you make it work yeah it's fun

I think one of the things I get most

criticized for her by my endocrinologist

the fact that I don't have a set carb

ratio I kind of just eyeball things and

she is disgusted by that she's like why

you need to have a carb ratio and no

wonder you have a couple lows here in

the morning and I'm like well I've had

this thing for eighteen years I'm pretty

good at eyeballing the amount of carbs

on my plate but it sounds like you're

doing that a little bit as well too

definitely yeah my um my endo always

gets mad at me for not actually using

the what is it full list wizard where it

does all the math for you I'm like I'm

good at math I just want to do it yeah

diabetes makes you fantastic at math so

that's the silver lining that we're

going for but um so in all these

different places you're doing different

runs in these different countries talk

about what is the process like kind of

scouting out a location and I imagine

you know a run in New Zealand versus our

run in Poland or Slovakia those are what

I would imagine vastly different how do

you try to make like maintain a

consistent level of performance across

those different environments well it's

pretty tricky I'm actually doing pretty

much all of this travel for slalom

so it's let me just give you a little

breakdown of it it's like skiing song we

have gates we have to go in between but

some of our gates are down gates some of

them are up and you get in trouble and

you have two seconds added on to your

time if you touch them in 50 seconds if

you miss them so you're trying to be

clean in between the gates but also fast

so it's very on the edge hard sport and

our courses lasts about a minute thirty

of just sprinting as hard as you can

yeah yeah it's hard

so I've done most of my traveling for

that and all pretty much all of our

courses nowadays are artificial so

they're man-made most of them in Europe


it off of a river but they're all like

concrete some of the new ones actually

they just build a big circular ditch

pretty much they put pumps at the bottom

and the water gets pumped in a circle

like full circle so it's not like super

hard whitewater it's more technical

whitewater like you're not going to see

any big scary like consequential things

but you're going to you're still going

to have a hard time battling so it's

kind of like a different thing than just

going down river you know but I mean

every course is different which is the

cool thing about it some courses are

more similar to others but pretty much

every time you're on a different piece

of water which is amazing and super fun

but also can be pretty tricky absolutely

I can't imagine so you said that the

average run is somewhere between a

minute and minute and a half

do you have multiple runs to qualify or

is it usually like one and done if you

don't make the time you're out so

basically you get two runs the first day

so they you have probably like sixty

athletes the first run they take the top

20 and then the second run if you don't

make top twenty you have the chance to

make the next top ten so they take 30

total and if you don't make the top ten

then you're done and then the next day

you have semifinals so you get one run

top ten from that part goes to finals

and then if you don't make the top ten

you done it so it's pretty pretty brutal

no second chances pretty brutal indeed

it sounds like so do you have it's sort

of I would equate this or make an

analogy to like an Olympic sprinter you

know you do all of this training all of

this visualization and it's when the the

light goes on or the gun sounds you have

such a limited amount of time to

actually go out and perform and execute

on this strategy do you have any sort of

approach or routine that you do prior to

kind of getting behind the starting line

to one of these events I mean I

definitely have a set routine but um

I've had a bit of a hard time with it

this year as far as competitions I

haven't put down a ton of good ones but

that's more of my mental side that I'm

trying to work on but normally it's like

two hours before my kids you have set

times chores before my run I'll do a pre

warmup which is like just easy paddling

Sprint's and then I'll get out walk the

course with my coach look at the water

just kind of get centered and then about

15 minutes before my run I'll get back

in just warm up again and then it's go

time and there's a lot of music put into

that okay what do we listen to do ah

lots of different stuff some some rock

some punk some rap this kind of depends

on what mood I'm in do you have a go-to

song oh that's hard I don't know it kind

of changes

honestly like changes for competition

depends on what mood I'm in sometimes

it's like more upbeat and fun sometimes

it's just like getting super pumped up

and like stuff like that yeah yeah no I

definitely know what you mean depends on

the day and I actually before football

games there was a stretch where I and I

get so much adrenalin for or I did I'm

washed up now retired but I would get so

much of an adrenaline rush before games

I would actually have to try the

opposite approach

I would actually listen to music that

tried to calm me down so I was looking

to like a mellow Coldplay songs and try

to relax

when I understood so that's another

thing I want to talk about as it relates

to diabetes is and especially these

shorter events I imagine there's

obviously got to be a lot of adrenaline

and excitement flowing through your body

so and we know scientifically that that

cortisol will affect blood sugar levels

and elevate your blood sugar have you is

that a phenomenon that you've noticed

and do you have any strategies to kind

of counteract it I definitely have

noticed that even during training

actually I I'll be like 121 I'll get all

be okay perfect and then I'll just spike

up to 250 for absolutely no reason I'll

have like not eating anything I'll just

like up so that's definitely from

adrenaline and just you know all that so

I try to give myself like a little

Bullis when I get off they kind of try

to counteract that it's still not super

perfect but if it works better and then

yeah I try to do that after races as

well during slalom it's not too bad I

get spikes after training mops and then

I get spikes after races but during the

Creek races which is going from point A

to point B

as you can over super-hard whitewater

like almost the hardest whitewater you

can have my blood Sugar's go crazy after

that because that is like pure

adrenaline you're running over

waterfalls and going through just

massive whitewater so yeah that makes

sense it's almost like with the slalom

you have to be a little bit more

calculated and calm in terms of exactly

yes so talking about your competing I'm

looking at your resume here to 2013

junior women's national freestyle

champion 2014 you followed it up with

being named canoe and kayak female

paddle paddler of the year and then in

2015 junior women's freestyle world

champion is there a particular run or

event or win that sticks out in your

mind as a moment that for you is you

have the most pride about um it would

probably definitely have to be my 2015

freestyle Junior World Championships I

had it was on a wave versus a hole so

they're a lot harder to put a whole ride

in because you can flush off a lot

easier and I'd never and there are also

different tricks and I never wave voted

before in my life I made team and I went

up to Canada and just put a ton of work

in I was paddling like three times a day

just trying to learn the tricks to do on

those ways having no idea what I'm doing

and my dad and I worked through it and I

put down my whole competition ride that

I wanted to and my score actually

outscored the women I had it was it was

an amazing feeling that's one of my

favorite competitions for sure that's

amazing and when you say tricks describe

that to me because I'm like envisioning

you doing like flip off of a jump in a

kayak but I don't know if that's even

picture like a surf wave in the ocean

but make it stationary and we are

actually in our kayaks going up and down

the wave and throwing like it's easier

to describe it in a hole where we do

front flips and stuff but wave tricks

kind of these a lot of ends a little too

like it sounds awful someone names a

trick of blunt

okay and we'll do we'll do blunts so

it's like just like a cartwheel pretty

much but only the first end of it and

you can do that backwards and we do my

signature trick was 360 on my head

pretty much like using my paddle blades

to spin me around so you're upside-down

doing a 360 and that's called the helix

and do it okay yeah learn it at this

point in your completely underwater yes

well you're trying to get air on it so

that's the goal of the trick you can

actually score it unless you have air

but you definitely can't breathe it's

not enough air for that Wow and is it

always in the sort of are you training

in the same environment that you're

competing in or are you training in a

more controlled environment to kind of

learn these tricks so basically for a

competition like World Championships I

always go there at least a month before

to the exact venue where the competition

will be on just to figure out where I

can throw a trick how I can set up what

works in different places and kind of

figuring out my competition ride and

also working on new tricks so that's

that's kind of what I do see I'm in the

competition venue for a while but

sometimes it depends sometimes like for

smaller competitions we'll just show up

like the week before but you always get

at least some kind of training at the

competition venue but for slalom

actually we set gate for training but we

actually have no idea what the course

will be for the competition until the

night before the race and then we don't

get to practice on it at all we get to

watch some paddlers who aren't racing

navigate it and kind of figure out what

to do off of that but the first time

we're touching the course is on our race

run so that makes it even harder yeah

yeah the unknown

so do you does any of your training

happen outside of these courses or is it

primarily your in the boat where you're

going down a course and that's where

most of the training happens are you

doing you know strength training or

plyometrics or anything like that

outside of the water um yes the during

winter I'm actually working out about

three times a day so I'll do

water which can go from anaerobic to

aerobic will either do like shorter

Sprint's for a longer period of time or

will do seven minutes at our heart rate

at 170 and then take a little break and

we'll do that like 10 times so it's

really working on trying to build up how

fast you can go for that minute 30 and

then I'll do a gym session which can

range from we will do like usually

during the winter it's faster stuff so

we'll do a lot of circuits which can be

like pull up benchpress kind of

everything you can think of squats


lots of burpees and just you know kind

of stuff like that pretty basic workout

we like we don't do anything super fancy

but it's like it a super high intensity

lot higher reps a lighter weight and

then getting towards more of the ends of

winter training we'll do like less reps

with heavier weights and stuff like that

and then I'll also do like another

either technique session or recovery

paddle which is like 30 minutes and easy

paddling or just um usually more of a

aerobic type session to finish off the

day which could also involve a run yeah

I'm constantly constantly training yeah

definitely sounds like that's that's


so what sort of community do you have

and do you have a community that you

sort of train with and what is that kind

of support network look like um so I

actually do a lot of my training on my

own because I live in Nevada and the

closest like qalam group to me is in

North Carolina uh-huh well yeah there's

a little one in Colorado but they don't

have a good course either um so I do

pretty much all my stuff on my own I

have a remote coach who lives in Spain

and he'll send me training plans when

I'm home and I'll send him video back

and he kind of will Skype me and help me

with my technique but yeah I know

training partner out here anything and

in the summer when I'm training I

usually use a different coach than the

rest of us team so I'm still kind of

training on my own normally um so I

don't really mind it but actually this

this winter in about a month

we heading out to Spain to train with

the coach who sends me training plans so

I'll have some buddies out there to

paddle with which will be nice amazing


I think someone who's trained alone a

little bit for a college football I

think it's tough um I definitely think

there are advantages to being part of a

group but at the same time training

alone I think is a great tool to kind of

sharpen mental toughness would you agree

oh yes I definitely agree it definitely

is not super motivating there I don't

get super motivated sometimes to get

nicole's all by myself but it helps with

that and I think it also helps with

diabetes and training like that kind of

help each other as far as the mental

side of just like toughening up and

going out and doing it so we talked

about I know you mentioned the 2020

Olympics briefly and I wanted to get

your take on what are some of your goals

moving forward as an athlete as a

competitor and what do you sort of have

your sights set on moving forward see

how's my main goal right now is the 2020

Olympics this is the first year we'll

that they'll have canoe women's in it so

we've had canoe men's kayak men's and

kayak women's but this year's the first

year where they're adding canoe women's

which is my favorite so I really want to

go for that and then I would also love

to go for kayaks because I do goals yeah

so that's that's my main goal that I'm

working towards right now my first

qualification race is World

Championships in 2019 which are insane

so I'm getting ready for that and yeah I

also freestyle so next year I have real

Championships which is my first year as

women's I'd really love to medal at that

and yeah just keep improving and

paddling and having fun of course

absolutely having fun most important

part what would it mean to you to not

only represent the US and the Olympics

but also sort of the diabetic athlete's

community it would be incredible

honestly you don't see at least I

haven't seen a lot of media of diabetic

Olympians so I would love to represent

the community and hopefully help inspire

other diabetics to follow their dreams

and I mean of course you're presenting

my country and the Olympics has been my

dream since

like seven so it would be pretty

incredible we're wishing you the best

but on what other I saw on the Instagram

is on your Instagram as well I think you

were doing a shoot for perhaps Medtronic

correct me if I'm wrong but what sort of

and what do you feel is the importance

of advocacy on the behalf of diabetic

athletes and kind of using their

platform to try to be an inspiration to

other people living with diabetes

honestly I think it's huge and I

probably haven't been the best at

advocating for diabetes but I've decided

to start getting better at that I have

had a lot of people contact me asking

like oh I didn't know you're diabetic

you know what do you what do you do for

competitions and stuff so I definitely

want to put more stuff out there to help

other diabetics and I've also this year

especially had a lot of very ignorant

people try to talk to me about diabetes

so I want to also help the general

public kind of try to understand what we

go through when when you say ignorant

just to clarify is that like they don't

know the difference between type 2 and

type 1 or is it usually why had a mother

say that diabetes was just like having

Alexia um so kind of stuff like that

where they have just no idea what

they're talking about

I've had people ask oh why are you

wearing your insulin pump all day and

you know just like crazy stuff like that

was like well I I need it to live yeah

yeah so I think a lot of people don't

understand diabetes they don't even know

what it is and I think that having some

more people know and understand would

also really help other diabetics with a

support group and everything for sure I

think all diabetics regardless of

whether you're a successful athlete or

not have a platform and they have the

ability to impact other individuals

maybe it's just one person maybe it's a

hundred people or a thousand oh but you

know as a result of diabetes being sort

of an invisible chronic illness you can

go through your life and through your

sort of diabetic journey and not kind of

let anyone in on what's going on and

I've said this before on the podcast and

I'll repeat it because I think it's


I was you know in my senior year doing

injections I was on a pen at that point

I'm now back on a pump but doing

injections in the locker room and guys

were coming up to me that I played four

years of football with and asking you

know what that was you know I think it's

important to be proactive about

advocating our diabetes and being

demonstrative with your treatment

because the simple fact is you know we

are so desensitized because we live with


we're around it 24/7 but the truth is

like you experience age a lot of people

don't actually know about it and by just

being a little bit more vocal in our

treatment we can really impact people

really educate people and hopefully in

the end state really inspire a lot of

people and people especially living with

diabetes oh yes definitely and I always

try to answer everyone's questions

especially in person but um I definitely

want to get more on the bandwagon of

just posting stuff about diabetes on

social media and all that so so in those

17 days that you're your home of the

year what do you do to kind of remove

yourself from all the stresses that come

with competing and kind of what do you

do outside of the boat what are sort of

your your hobbies to kind of detach from

that well honestly right now I'm swamped

with college so I do online classes

through western Nevada college so right

now it's just a lot of school but I mean

I love to go on hikes with my dog I have

a little reduced enriched back and he's

just the cutest and we'll go out for

hours and just hike and it's great and I

live near Lake Tahoe's we have amazing

mountains and you know I love to

longboard height yeah run just kind of

anything outdoors I just love like

stand-up paddleboarding just going

through a river run is just amazing

because I mean you're out in nature you

can see beautiful things do with your

friends I mean it's just it's a lovely

step back in training even though I'm

still kayaking yeah I just do a lot of

outdoor stuff I read when I can but that

doesn't happen very often I'm pretty


ya know it certainly sounds like that

like it and I think I'm now appreciating

the value of nature and just being out

exposed to it going for hikes I just did

a after I graduated school a big road

trip in the

Southwest so we did arches Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon lands Zion and just being

out and around nature just kind of

rewires your brain and I think it's just

so awesome and it's tough being and I'm

based in Boston so we have a shorter

window to Wow yeah things like that but

and you know outside of it just being

good for your your state of being I

think for diabetes I think it can

introduce a lot of stability to your

blood sugar by just going out if you do

a two-hour hike you'll be shocked at the

rest of the day how stable your blood

Sugar's definitely but yeah sage so in

starting to wrap up what are some of the

other things that you you think about

with regard to your diabetes and what

would be some of your messages to the

broader t1d community I mean since I was

diagnosed I've always been trying to

push out just just because you have

diabetes doesn't mean you have to give

up on your goals and dreams I've met a

lot of diabetics like even at my

endocrinologist that were like oh yeah I

used to play soccer but I have diabetes

now so I can't and I just really want to

push out that that's not the case you

can follow your goals you can follow

your dreams it'll be harder obviously

than not having it but it'll actually

make you stronger in the end and you can

be an amazing athlete or whatever else

you want to do couldn't agree more and I

think that's the that's the thing and if

you can if you can embrace that and

believe that diabetes won't hold you

back I think in the end you'll actually

find that the disease empowers you to do

things from a mental standpoint and just

from an overall resiliency standpoint

that you wouldn't otherwise be able to

do absolutely that's yeah that's a

realization that will come at different

points for different people

and I think we were both you know in a

sense fortunate to be diagnosed at a

young age and have sort of had a longer

run time with diabetes so that we could

have that sort of epiphany but it is

really and I am coming to the

realization that t1 DS is a blessing in

disguise if you manage it properly if

you keep your blood sugar under control

so yeah couldn't agree with you more in

terms of it is absolutely not a

roadblock to athletic success or success

otherwise or living a gratifying and

happy life so sage thank you so much for

coming on the podcast

this was fascinating it makes me want to

go out in kayak I don't know where but

hopefully a better experience than when

I was 12 in the kayak slipped and hit me

on the head but again thank you so much

for coming on I really appreciate it and

it was an awesome conversation we'll be

pulling for you to make the 2020

Olympics and best of luck in moving

forward with your career as a

competitive athlete thank you so much

and thank you for having me and if you

ever find yourself in Nevada if I'm home

I'll take you cocky I know I guess we

just got to hope for that it's one of

those 17 days that you're back

definitely I am change on me I have type

1 diabetes and I have a game plan we

hope you enjoyed this episode of the

game plan to und podcast for related

content please visit

Anders Hill Show Notes

0:04 / 32:08

The Game Plan T1D Podcast: Episode 6 - Anders Hill



Sam Benger

Published on Sep 9, 2018



This episode of the Game Plan T1D Podcast features T1D athlete Anders Hill. Anders was diagnosed with T1D during his sophomore year of high school. Unfazed by the news of his diagnosis, Anders went on to play football at Columbia University where he led the Lions at Quarterback. This episode is loaded with practical advice for athletes of all sports. Listen in, learn, and be inspired!



what's going on game plan to indie

community I've got a fantastic episode

for you today I was lucky enough to be

able to sit down with onder's Hill

Hollanders was diagnosed with type 1

diabetes back in his high school days

however the news of his diagnosis didn't

slow him down in the slightest he would

go on to play football at Columbia

University where he was the starting


this episode is chock full with tons of

practical and actionable advice for

athletes of all sports not just football

I really feel like we got into some

really interesting topics so without any

further ado please enjoy my conversation

with onder's hill alright guys so

welcome to the game plan t1d podcast

today on the show we have onder's hill

oddly enough onder's and i met each

other back about was it two weeks ago

now at the Campbell Trophy summit out in

Palo Alto we were at Stanford University

and I saw them doing something

underneath the table and I was like well

okay I think he's I think that might be

an insulin pen and sure enough fellow

diabetics launders welcome to the show

man yeah thanks for having a truth be on

here so

in listening to that other podcast you

were on diabetics doing things and big

shout out to rob how if you haven't

listened to his podcast go check it out

that's diabetics doing things I was

really interested to hear sort of your

diagnosis story and to juxtapose it with

what I went through I was diagnosed when

I was five so I didn't I grew up with

diabetes sort of being my life I didn't

know anything other than that but tell

us about your diagnosis when it happened

what were the circumstances and what was

sort of going through your mind at that

time yeah definitely so like you said I

mean for me it was kind of a different

story so I actually got diagnosed with

type 1 diabetes with I was a sophomore

in high school and I want to say

February so we're just getting John with

the baseball season you know offseason

training hitting the cage and stuff and

I mean before you get diagnosed you

can't really tell

I mean you're kind of constantly drowsy

and I mean I was drinking at least like

three big water ball of the class period

just had Thompson cottonmouth all this

thirst and I mean me being an athlete I

just kind of thought I was dehydrated or

something so just kept trying to drink

water and never really thought much of

it and then my mom kept asking me like

why treat so much water I drink so much

water and I mean getting a high school

you know that you think nothing can ever

really happen to you nothing can go


so I just kind of shrugged her off and

no one in my family had diabetes or

anything but for some reason she knew

that that was kind of a sent them just

kind of wanted to get it checked out

just to make sure course mom feeding

moms well know best so lo and behold

Guild's and my pediatrician and within

five minutes they do ketone tests on my

pee and they basically knew right then

and there that I had diabetes but I'll

go to the Children's Hospital and

luckily they caught it pretty early I

didn't have to be hospitalized for more

than a couple hours or anything like

that I wasn't in ketoacidosis or

anything like that but I mean it was a

shocker that drive I'm from Boulder

Colorado so that drive from Boulder down

to Denver go to the Children's Hospital

I mean they basically just told me I had

diabetes and I had no idea what it was

at the time I mean like you said you

grew up with it so you are always kind

of like I mean when you're five you

don't really know it is but you had a

very clear understanding but for me I

mean I had never even really heard of it

known and my family knew anything about

it or had it so that was a long about

half hour drive down there didn't know

if I was being able to keep playing

sports but figured out that everything

is going to be okay if you just manage

it properly and now ended up playing the

rest of my high school career and end up

having the opportunity to play football

in college it's Lumbee a-- to so ended

up working out really well so yeah

that's how my diagnosis story that drive

over were you just rapidly googling on

your on your phone like just what is

this thing or was it more I'm just going

to wait and hear what the doctors have

to say yeah I mean I I was rapidly

googling and one of the things I think

is honestly kind of most frustrating

about type one

he's about sometimes especially on

google it can get kind of intertwined

and mixed in with type 2 diabetes so I

was half of actually looking at a bunch

of stuff for type 2 diabetes I don't

have no idea what I was actually looking

at I was like well I don't need like

that unhealthy I'm not old I'm not

overweight I thought I had no idea

really what was going on but yeah it was

just a real period of uncertainty for me

but I think that when I got to the

Children's possible they did a great job

to kind of calm me down really laying

out what was going on and how we're

going to tack this and just kind of

developing a game plan absolutely so the

other thing that comes with being

diagnosed at a later age being diagnosed

in high school is that you've had time

over the course of your life or habits

to set in you know be it ways of eating

or sleeping or just different parts of

your life or a little bit more

solidified obviously being an athlete

you're taking better care of yourself

and the average person would but were

there habits in your life in just ways

you went about diet or fitness that

really had to change or that you had to

look at after you're diagnosed yeah I

mean for me personally being from

Boulder Colorado that's a pretty like

health town anyways as it is I think I

already a decently healthy but I mean

the soda thing was a big kind of like

shock to me I mean when you are taking

shots you have to card count and so it

really teaches you to focus on what

you're actually eating and what you're

putting into your body for me I mean

immediately cut out soda and then I

honestly try to just kind of go on a

more low carb diet I think it's much

easier to regulate for me personally

doing kind of a low carb more higher

protein a little bit higher fat with

like nuts and peanut butter and things

like that versus just carbo loading all

the time but I mean sometimes you have

to do it like he does an athlete like

not for the game you need those carbs to

give you a lot of good energy for game

day so yeah I mean I think it's just

overall it honestly made me a lot

healthier person and made me a lot more

aware of my body

obviously I prefer not to have type 1

diabetes but I think looking on the

bright side of things I'm much more

aware of the things that I'm eating and

the things

putting into my body than the average

person which I think has actually made

me healthier in the long run I

absolutely think that's one of the

biggest and best takeaways from kind of

reflecting on life as a diabetic and I

think that's one of the best frame of

minds to look at your diagnosis with is

that it really is a blessing in disguise

because we live in an age now where we

have such processed foods around us and

stuff like that that you really need to

know and be aware and be accountable for

what you're putting in your body so as

I'm sure you know and growing up with

IBS we are very familiar with

nutritional labels and how many carbs

yeah food is it high in fat which will

like you know a piece of pizza will

impact your blood sugar differently then

a can of soda even though they may have

you know a similar amount of

carbohydrates so you want to get your

take on what was sort of the mindset

that you adopted at the start right at

your diagnosis and how that kind of

changed over time yeah I think for me

one of the biggest things was just

understanding what it was at first and

once I have that and once I worked with

my doctors and worked with my family to

kind of establish a game plan of how we

were going to best manage this I think

it was just go attack it you know I

think that it was something that I

realized if I took care of and managed

and wouldn't change my quality of life

or anything like that it wouldn't stop

me from doing any of the things but I

know I could do and know that I wanted

to do so I always went into with the

mindset of I'm going to try and be the

best dog that I can be with my a one C

with just managing my blood sugar things

like that so I'm not affected or in any

negative way especially in terms of

sports that was always one of my biggest

motivations I never wanted to have a

super bad low blood sugar high blood

sugar and feel drowsy in the middle of a

game or something like that because I

didn't want it to affect my level of

play so I think for me it was always

just kind of a challenge and I just kind

of looked at it in a way where it's like

hey if anyone's going to get diagnosed

with it the good thing it's me because I

think I'll be able to best manage it so

yeah I mean it was really just once you

realized that it's kind of up to you you

know there's a lot of personal

responsibility that you can take and you

kind of make it what it is you know like

you can not take good care of your body

or you can't take care of your good body

and that kind of goes for whether you

have diabetes or not so I just looked at

it like might as well do the best that I

can you know mm-hmm it really forces you

to aspire to a higher level of health

because it's that much more high stakes

being insulin dependent but I wanted to

talk about your time at Columbia what

were some of the the challenges you

faced and how were you able to overcome

those yeah I think for me

one of the biggest things is just always

making sure at a snack there's something

like a Gatorade or

like a little glucose pack with me

wherever I went because I think before

arm I was kind of a lot on like my

parents or just any like you you kind of

take it for granted when you're at home

and your house is always stocked to the

brim with food in the fridge or

something like that but I mean when

you're in a dorm room I mean college

freshmen two guys on the football team

you know lured up exactly living large

like that though always just making sure

that you have snacks just being very

self aware of how you feel you know

they're just not as not nearly as much

as a safety blanket when you're living

on your own and you're away from home

especially with the low blood sugar

thing I think you have to be much more

cognizant and aware of that because see

your roommates out of the room or

something you're taking out and you get

a super bad low blood sugar I mean

before it's like girls you have your

parents around to help you out or

something like that but when you're on

your own

and there's known around to help you

need to be really self aware so I think

I found myself testing a lot more when I

went away to college just trying to

really get a better baseline see how I

was feeling and things like that and

also too with the prescriptions I mean

in high school my mom always kind of got

everything for me from the pharmacy so

just learning how to manage that always

make sure I was always stocked up with

everything was really important but

again I mean it's just a little bit of a

learning curve that you have to deal

with sometimes just like we need to get

diagnosed but once you start doing the

right thing they kind of settle into

rhythm it just becomes second nature so

again nothing that's too challenging

that can't be done yeah I think always

as a diabetic erring on the side of

caution and really for any chronic

illness is the the right way to get when

you discussed two different coping

mechanisms you had one and and it's a

good idea always carrying fast-acting

glucose on you no matter where you go

the other ones checking more often some

people have si GM's now constant glucose

monitors other people don't it's an

awesome idea even with a CGM to be

calibrating and making sure you have an

idea of where you're at and contains on

yourself but I want to talk about game

days this is something that I had a

particularly tough time with because I

am super I don't know anxious I guess

you could say but I had such adrenaline

on Saturday mornings and that would just

destroy any stability that I had my

blood sugar and I'd be you know all of

Friday making sure I ate properly in

Saturday morning I need a really clean

low carb breakfast and then it was just

like an hour away from game time ninety

minutes out it would all just go to hell

and blood Sugar's would be going up and

down oh I wanted to get your take on if

you kind of had a similar experience and

how you tried to handle that challenge

yeah I think for me just as a

quarterback I would never get as jacked

up as other people you know I was trying

to stay a little bit more like Tom but

yeah exactly the same thing where it's

just that adrenalin you know and I mean

especially carries through even for

hours after the game as well find myself

running high for hours after game too

but I think anytime that adrenaline

comes into play one of the most

important things at least I've found for

myself is that never to overcorrect

because then you're just going to crash

an hour later you know so for me even if

I was running high before a game I would

always Drive I always kind of looked at

it as a false high so I knew that I was

jacked up I knew that I had adrenaline

going through me so if I was like 170 or

something I wouldn't take any insolence

try and get back down to like a hundred

level you know I was always okay with

running a little bit hot because

personally I found that I didn't feel

like I had high blood sugar because like

I said I thought it was a false high

from the adrenaline and I would always

rather be a little bit on the higher end

especially when I'm really exerting

myself versus kind of teetering on the

brink of like a crash and then having to

deal with that in the middle of the game

which was very

restful yeah again I think airing on

that that high side is the way to go did

you're trained in your training staff

and you have kind of some hard and fast

numbers that they were like all right we

want you to be at least 80 or above to

be in the game was there any sort of

system in place like that that you

needed to hit certain marks um no not

really I mean with my trainers they

always kind of defer to my judgment

because I was the one that had diabetes

for four or five years running outside

so I think they trusted me and trusted

how I was feeling so I would test during

the game probably once a quarter and I

always found myself to be pretty level

and stable I never really had a problem

with it I honestly never had the really

like take insulin or I'd always like sip

on a Gatorade now and then during the

game just to make sure I was running a

little bit on that higher and like we

talked about but with the training staff

way obviously they're very aware so I

had diabetes and they'd always have

glucose packs with them and an extra

meter with them and I mean sometimes you

kind of lose track top of the game so

they check up on me ask buy tested help

me out with that but now there was never

really like a mark I would have to hit

to like be able to go back in the game

or anything like that so for me I think

I had a great training stuff like that

and I think it was good of them just

kind of preferred my judgment and I

think I was pretty self-aware with how I

was feeling

so yeah I think and I wanted to continue

talking about your reliance on the

training staff because I think for me it

took some time for me to fully open up

to the training staff and I mean I think

I was overly independent with my

diabetes care like you guys aren't going

to understand you know I'm the one who's

been living with it for 15 years and

you're not going to be able to add value

to this situation but I really think

that's that strategy totally backfired

because keeping them in the dark is just

the wrong idea whether it's they're not

going to have glucose tabs on them out

on the field or they're just not going

to know where I'm at during a game or

during a practice so what was it like

for you starting to rely on that

training staff yeah I think when you're

in high school when you're at home I

mean everyone's kind of aware of your

situation idea

Cooper friendship family like you grew

up with it like you said you got it for

15 years everyone knows so going into a

new situation where you don't know

anyone you don't know the training stuff

you don't know your teammates around you

you're kind of feeling out getting to

know people I mean it can be hard to

kind of bring up what you might think be

the right time say hey I'm the type 1

diabetic you know I mean for me I talked

to my roommate about it right away

because I had needles all over the place

so I tell him but it kind of came in

waves I guess I think for me like I do

with a group of friends and they DVD

something I'd open up some of them about

and tell them but I definitely agree

that with the training staff at least it

took me at least a year to tell them

just especially because I think when

you're getting recruited - you don't

really want to tell the coaches that are

treating you that you are a type 1

diabetics be honest you don't want it to

not that it should or would in any way

but it's just something that you don't

the recruiting process was already

pretty crazy I didn't want to affect

that in any way so then once I got on

campus all I was a little worried about

how do I bring this up what do I do here

and then it was actually in flake I

think because we had to be there for the

whole summer so when it was probably in

like week three or something in my

freshman season I had a low blood sugar

during practice one day I was like hey

like I need you where'd the Gatorade

where's the Gator they pointed me in the

right direction on there like what was

that and I ended up opening up about

them and they were like like why didn't

you tell us this you know like um so I

think for me if looking back on it like

you said I should have been way more

open up front but I mean as an 18 year

old kid coming into new situations

something that not to be embarrassed

about it but just something that is kind

of like closed but hits close to home

and you can be protective of sometimes

just like you said so my advice to

anyone would just be don't be afraid to

open up to people about it especially

those that can really make an impact on

you with it like a training staff if

you're an athlete yeah I think

especially in football too you have this

like macho culture and it's like mad

there's nothing that's going to hold me

back from going out and just you know

whether it's two-a-days during Korean

camp or during

nothing's going to hold me back and

actually being vulnerable is way more

advantageous in the long run to having a

successful career than you know just

trying to carry dick back but it's only

on your own back but you brought it an

interesting and everyone is there to

help you to everyone here to help you so

it's not like you know like that's their

job so even though sometimes you can

seem like you might be burdening them or

something like that they want to help

and they're there to help yeah it sounds

like that was the reaction they had and

he told them it was like why why did you

wait all this time because like you said

that's their sole purpose yeah yeah you

brought up an interesting topic and it's

something that I've discussed a lot on

this podcast with our guests and it's

the fact that type 1 diabetes largely

especially with the technology that's

out there right now with see GM's that

run to your phone through bluetooth and

insulin palms that are wireless and that

run to a PDM that kind of looks like a

cell phone this chronic illness diabetes

is and can be invisible to the to the

outside people and the people that don't

really know us closely I remember our

first game we were on the road and I did

a shot in the locker room and I was back

on pens at this point and everyone's

looking at me all wide-eyed and you know

sure like my roommate and a few of the

guys I was I was close with back then

knew that it was insulin but everyone

else is like yeah I was this kid

shooting up with like his steroids in

the locker room like this man like

what's the deal but I wanted to ask you

do you feel like there's an obligation

as a diabetic as a diabetic athlete even

more so to be sort of vocal and sort of

self advocating about your own diabetes

to try to be an inspiration other people

and to try to just let them know that

they're sort of not alone in their

diabetes what's your take on being

demonstrative with your treatment yeah I

think as I've gotten to learn more and

more about it and as I've got more

comfortable with my situation with it I

think that's definitely true I found

myself to be more demonstrative about I

mean even starting work now within the

first couple days like I wasn't trying

to hide it you know usually what will

happen now is I don't really go out of

my way

and bringing up out of the blue to tell

someone but I won't hide it so like I'll

take a shot at my - kind of just out in

the open and do whatever and then some

be like hey what's that else take 5-10

minutes to explain it to them I was like

okay great like if there's anything I

can do to help let me know

and that happened with my boss the other

day our head of corporate strategy his

daughter actually has type 1 diabetes -

and I had no idea so I think when you

are more open and demonstrative about it

- you kind of like grow that Network and

you actually find out that a lot more a

lot more people than you think know

about type 1 diabetes they know someone

who has it they know someone is affected

by it or they themselves might have it

like you and I found at the conference

this weekend so I think that being the

monster is about it speaking up about it

setting a good example for maybe younger

people who are just learning about it

and who do how that I think can be a

really powerful thing and I mean I could

be honest with you I bonded with my new

boss over that and we're going to do a

JDRF walk here in the fall so I mean

it's great you know I think the more you

can kind of grow that community and

educate more people about it the better

yeah I have in for the audience I cannot

agree with that more the amount of times

you you bring up the fact that you're a

diabetic or that I bring up this podcast

and that this is a project I'm working

on the amount of times people either

know someone in their family or a close

friend who has diabetes or they know

someone who works in sort of the

endocrinology space the diabetes space

it seems like nine times out of ten

there's some degree of connection there

so it's yeah and those opportunities

usually like just with your boss lead to

really cool opportunities for bonding

and for networking and stuff like that

and again and I think - also for the

people that don't know about as well

it's just an education experience is

like I said sometimes it can be kind of

frustrating when someone doesn't know

the difference between type 1 diabetes

or type 2 diabetes or what it actually

is because they think you're just kind

of like is unhealthy person when in

reality that's not really the case so

for me I think

actually really enjoy talking to someone

about it to who had no idea about type 1

diabetes going into it because then I

educate them on it better and then they

now have a better idea about diabetes

going forward and just kind of like

raises awareness for the whole situation

and for the disease as a whole you know

absolutely so if someone ever told you

you look too healthy to have diabetes

yeah yeah yeah that's happening many

times there's actually one time in Maya

is in one like business class I was

taking school but it was for like this

diabetes it was this case study on some

diabetes man I can't remember exactly

who it was but they kept it was a type-2

diabetes drug that they were referring

to but they never in the case that he

distinguished between type 1 and type 2

and the whole time I was like this is

ridiculous like they're it's just they

have no clue what they're actually

talking about with it so it can be

frustrating sometimes but I think like

you said just having a dialogue with

there's nothing to like be mad about

with it you know it's like I don't blame

someone for not knowing about it I

didn't know anything about it before I

got diagnosed but I think that the more

you can have open dialogues with people

about it the more you just raise

awareness for the cause and the better

you know yeah I don't think you should

ever like you said be looked on is like

how do you not know this it's like of

course exact what we know about it and

we're diagnosed with it we live with it

every day but you don't expect anyone

else to yeah yeah absolutely it's it's a

great like you said opportunity to look

at it as a chance to educate someone but

I want to go back here your Columbia

days and you're talking about some

different support networks with the

training staff there but you also were

in sort of a unique situation where one

of your teammates

Kyle Kastner was also a type 1 diabetic

talk about how you guys sort of a

figured out that you were both juvenile

diabetics but also what was that

relationship like and being able to kind

of lean on him and have an

lean on you during certain times yeah so

I actually I knew that we had a kiss

using the grade below me so I knew that

we had to create another diabetic Claire

because I talked to him when he was on

his recruiting visit when I was a

freshman his senior high school and so

there was just like this ongoing running

joke amongst all my friends on the team

like what are we just like recruiting

all diabetes players knowledge that's

going on hair like um but no I it was a

great experience for me like you said

because I personally had never really

known anyone else my age you had type 1

diabetes like obviously I had met people

at Barbara Davis telling the Children's

Hospital something like that but no one

I had a real close relationship to that

I can kind of have a dialogue with and

be like oh when you're running high

hearing a game what do you do or go back

and forth and kind of just hear their

thoughts and hear their best practices

and what works for them in different

situations so it was actually great

having him come on the team and I mean

you doubt it again it kind of adds not

that it's something to rely on you

should always kind of have your own

stuff and be prepared but having another

little layer of a safety blanket with

him on the team I mean sometimes oh I

have a butcher forgot something to eat

cause you have a Gatorade in your locker

do you have glucose near Locker oh yeah

go ahead take this though I'm just

having another person kind of really

really understood what I was going

through um was great to have and just

like you said having dialogue back and

forth having open conversations it was

great I think kwame's football team

might be one of the most enlightened

about diabetes in the antia black so

that's awesome so now we were talking

before we started recording here about

how we're both washed-up now I use that

term affectionately but so what

what is the game plan going forward now

that now we're both done playing

football how are you planning to stay

active and obviously fitness and

exercise or such crucial parts of

maintaining stable levels of blood sugar

what's your strategy going forward and

you know with a very demanding job how

are you going to try to balance all that

and what

here your strategy for exercise and

staying fit going forward I feel lucky

just because I love exercise it doesn't

seem like a burden to me or something I

was like I have to go work out after

work you know I gotta look forward to

getting off work and then go to the gym

working out getting a good sweat on so I

try and at least do something active

every day I usually a lift and like do

cardio at least like five or six times a

week and I will play like basketball or

something too but I think that it is so

important to at least every not you

don't have to do it every day but at

least a majority of the week get out

there get a good sweat on get your heart

rate up and be active because for me

when I'm on vacation and I don't work

out for a week or something it's just my

blood sugar just goes crazy you know

like especially when you're used to that

you have a routine I think that's so

important to do when you do develop a

very kind of regimented routine it just

makes it easier to maintain good blood

sugar levels because it becomes

regimented it becomes kind of like your

body gets into a rhythm and gets into a

sink of alright this is how much I'm

going to be exerting myself so when you

end up taking the same amounts of

insulin every day it's just I think it's

just good practice for regulating blood

sugar so for me I really prioritize I

think it's one of the most important

things for regulating my diabetes and

also just kind of like keeping me sane

when you know you're sittin at a desk

for 1213 hours a day I give you credit

that's tough but on that sort of message

of advice we like to ask this question

all of our guests if you could send a

message to the diabetic community

perhaps as someone who is just diagnosed

or someone that's having a particularly

tough time managing their diabetes right

now what would your message be to that

community and why I think for me oh just

be reach out to as many different

diabetics as you can and hear their

stories I mean this is I listen to a

couple year of podcasts before this and

like you said did the diabetics peirong

things one but I mean it's easy to kind

of live in a shell live in this bubble

with diabetes but I think that if you do

as much as you can to reach out to

people hear their stories and learn as

much as you can about

type one diabetes it just really broad

your horizon you realize more and more

that it can be kind of a blessing in

disguise with being more aware of your

health and eating better and exercising

more and it won't hold you back at all I

mean look at you you played college

football night here in this great

podcast so I think you're a prime

example of looking at it in a very

positive way and doing the most with it

so I think anyone who's struggling with

it or just got diagnosed I think it's

very easy to get down yourself and be

like why me

come on like this is just such a

hospital this is such a burden but when

you have dialogues with people you reach

out you can understand better and better

each day and learn more that you know

this is something I really can manage

and it doesn't have to slow me down at

all just look at all these other things

people are doing and also hearing that

others have gone through the same kind

of struggles and questioning that you

have it makes you feel a lot better you

know that sometimes it's like well I can

buy the only one dealing with this know

there's a whole community of people out

there that have been through what you've

been through and are here to help I love

it that's awesome man and yeah I think

it's like you know we talked about how

diabetes can be advantageous from just

your own making sure your health is so

dialed in and being accountable for what

you're fueling your body with from a

food standpoint but it's also like just

from a community standpoint it's really

it's really nice to be part of this

diabetic community and this sort of

diabetic athlete community because there

are some really cool people in it and I

would I would definitely endorse your

message like go out there go online

search diabetic athlete and there are so

many just inspirational stories out

there and there's no need to feel alone

in the process we all go through

different challenges and tough times but

the amount of success that people are

having out there with type 1 diabetes is

just astounding and it's awesome and

it's uplifting and just seek out these

doors and be inspired so my last

question I got to ask you set on the

diabetics doing things podcast at your

Jay Cutler fan I'm going to give you 36

I mean he's diabetic for one type one

value so had to be a jade color fair of

course but uh no I just think it's I

don't know it's just cool to see someone

who's playing the highest level with

diabetes I think he even though he can

come off as kind of a grasp on times on

Sunday Night Football or something like

that I think that the more I've

researched him he's actually done a lot

of great things through type one

diabetes so I love to get Jay Keller

prop crops and refer him whenever he's

plan yeah I actually I think he has a

scholarship program that I applied for

back in the day so yeah Whittle actually

love to have Jay Cutler on the program

no hard feelings Raja at all just giving

them up that's awesome man so onder's

thank you so much for coming on the show

man it was a pleasure meeting you out of

Stanford and a pleasure talking to you

tonight thanks so much for coming on the

podcast I appreciate it

no problems down glad to be on here I am

on durcell I have type 1 diabetes and I

have a game plan we hope you enjoyed

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