When senior forward Katie Morris was diagnosed with diabetes, it never crossed her mind to give up sports.

“The doctor came in and said, ‘Katie, you have Type I diabetes, and you need to go to the hospital,’ ” Morris said. And I thought, ‘But I have lacrosse practice!'”

Because of the disease, Morris’s body does not produce the insulin necessary to absorb nutrients from food.

“I was losing a bunch of weight (despite) eating all the time,” Morris said. “I just thought I had this great metabolism.”

After first feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new information, Morris saw her diabetes as something she would need to adjust to.

“You have to learn to count carbohydrates in food, and you have to learn how to manage exercise and diet,” Morris said. “So it was a big learning process for me.”

Part of dealing with diabetes is monitoring her blood sugar levels during competition. Morris has to come out of games halfway through the first half, at halftime and halfway through the second half to prick her finger for a reading.

Gatorade and insulin injections are always on hand to help her maintain a proper balance. The team’s athletic trainer has a special section in her medical bag specifically for Morris’s equipment.

“Since sophomore year (of high school), I’ve taken over 10,000 injections (of insulin),” Morris said. “But it just becomes a part of your life.”

In an arena like sports, where it is often a badge of honor to play through pain, Morris often faces the difficult decision of whether to pull herself out of practice or games.

“That’s the toughest (thing) – pulling myself out, making sure I’m really in tune with my body, admitting when it’s not right for me to be playing,” Morris said. “Hopefully, (my teammates) know that if I could be in there, I would be.”

Morris has had to keep even tighter control over her diabetes since she came to Michigan.

“In high school, if you’re not feeling your best, you can probably get through practice,” Morris said. “Here, you want to compete and be the best player you can be out on the field. That means being more disciplined with the treatment and insulin and really paying attention to pregame meals.”

Morris’s disciplined management of her diabetes has not gone unnoticed by her coach and teammates, who have provided constant support, encouragement and understanding.

“That’s great leadership,” Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. “(She) has a chronic diagnosis, and she has managed it beautifully. What an incredible testimony to (her) senior leadership.”

Morris is not only an inspiration to her teammates but to other young athletes dealing with diabetes.

“I always encourage young diabetics to keep playing, keep doing things,” Morris said. “Diabetes can’t stop you – it’s just something you need to accommodate.”

The disease certainly hasn’t prevented Morris from being successful. She was named team tri-captain and has started every game for the Wolverines this season, scoring eight goals and notching three assists for a team-high 19 points.

“I took (diabetes) on as a battle I was going to deal with,” Morris said. “Getting diabetes was a bump in the road, but it didn’t stop me.”

 

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