Hitting a Home Run With Diabetes: College Coach and Catcher Team Up on and off the Field

RBIs, batting averages, home runs, ERAs, strikeouts — there are many numbers to keep track of in baseball. Some players and coaches have to watch other numbers, too, like blood glucose levels, carbohydrates, and insulin units. In the September issue of Diabetes Forecast, the consumer magazine of the American Diabetes Association, Sam Houston State University starting catcher Heath Pugh and his assistant coach, Chris Berry, who talk about playing baseball while wearing insulin pumps and the unique bond they’ve forged as athletes with diabetes.

Heath Pugh was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 14. He spent the next several months learning how to give himself insulin injections, then how to use an insulin pump. Along the way, he never gave up his drive to excel in baseball.

Pugh’s determination is familiar to Coach Berry, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven. Although his doctors recommended he lead an inactive life, Berry decided not to let his diabetes get in the way of what he wanted to do. “If you learn to take control, [diabetes] doesn’t have to slow you,” says Berry. “It has not stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do.” Berry and Pugh first met when Berry was coaching a baseball camp that Pugh attended. Seven years later, they met again at Sam Houston State. Berry soon became a role model for Pugh, both as a coach and an experienced athlete with diabetes.

Berry not only supports Pugh’s development as a baseball player, but he also shares his knowledge and experience about managing diabetes in the dugout and on the field. Pugh, in turn, has become a role model for the next generation of athletes, advising aspiring young athletes who also wear insulin pumps. “Diabetes is not a setback at all,” Pugh tells Diabetes Forecast. “It becomes who you are. You learn to live with it.”

Also in the September 2008 issue of Diabetes Forecast:

Why does some people’s blood glucose run unexpectedly high in the mornings? When this happens regularly, there are several factors to consider. Learn how the dawn phenomenon, the Somogyi effect, and waning insulin may affect your glucose levels over night and how to look out for these problems.

In addition, the September 2008 issue brings information about:

* Exercising for two — tips and advice for getting active during pregnancy.
* Back-to-school check list — things to prepare as your child with diabetes starts the school year.
* Small steps, big change — the little things you can do to eat better, get the sleep you need, and fit exercise into a busy lifestyle.

Diabetes Forecast has been America’s leading diabetes magazine for 60 years. Each full-color issue offers the latest news on diabetes research and treatment. Its mission is to provide information, inspiration, and support to people with diabetes, helping them to live a healthier lifestyle, control their diabetes, and prevent or treat its many complications. The magazine is published monthly by the American Diabetes Association.

The American Diabetes Association is the nation’s premier voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. The Association’s mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Founded in 1940, the Association provides services to hundreds of communities across the country. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.