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Lady Flyer doesn't let illness slow her down

By aalvarado
Jan. 17, 2011 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 16, 2011 at 7:17 p.m.


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Amanda Groenhuyzen has an added responsibility for the St. Joseph Lady Flyers soccer team.

While Groenhuyzen does more than enough to help St. Joseph win games, she also has to take care of herself.

Groenhuyzen has to manage her Type 1 Diabetes.

"It's just something you learn to live with," Groenhuyzen said.

In Type 1 diabetes the body doesn't produce insulin It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.

Groenhuyzen was diagnosed in March 2007, and when she got the news her thought immediately turned to the pitch.

"One of the first questions she had was 'Will I ever be able to play soccer again?,'" said Groenhuyzen's mother, Cris.

But Groenhuyzen worries about it a lot less than some of her teammates and coaches.

"They get a lot more nervous than I do," Groenhuyzen said with a smile. "My coach is always asking, 'Are you OK, you good, is your sugar OK?'"

Groenhuyzen uses test strips to monitor her blood sugar before games and carries along insulin pumps to keep on the sidelines to replace carbohydrates lost during play.

"While I'm playing I don't really focus on it, I'm really focused on the game," Groenhuyzen said.

Groenhuyzen learned early on that with the right precautions and monitoring, she could play soccer like others.

One of the keys to Groenhuyzen playing is the preparation her mother takes in addition making sure her daughter has proper cleats and shin guards.

"We have to make sure we have enough test strips on us, that her pump is full of insulin," Cris Groenhuyzen said. "That's where the added responsibility has come in."

St. Joseph soccer coach Gary Horne said Groenhuyzen is fast and athletic enough to cover a lot of ground and has strong enough kicks to finish goals.

Those attributes make it easy to play her anywhere on the field.

"I can put her on defense, I can put her on offense and she does a fantastic job at both," Horne said.

St. Joseph senior captain Shannon Denesi has seen Groenhuyzen become more vocal and assertive this season, her second on the varsity team.

"She was good to start with," Denesi said. "I think she can read plays a lot better now and know where to be."

Added Groenhuyzen: "Last year I felt like I was just listening to everyone else, but now I can tell other people what's going on."

Type 1 diabetes hasn't derailed Groenhuyzen nor has TAPPS Div. I, District 2 opponents this season.

In district play Groenhuyzen has scored five goals and added an assist in seven district games and has helped St. Joseph to a 4-3 district mark.

And she was clutch during the VISD Crossroads Soccer Tournament last weekend.

In the Lady Flyers opening match, Groenhuyzen scored two shootout goals including the clincher to lift St. Joseph over Houston St. Agnes 1-0.

In the semifinals the Lady Flyers spotted Victoria East a 1-0 lead..

But Groenhuyzen came through with two goals in the final 5 minutes of regulation to help the Lady Flyers beat Victoria East 2-1 and send St. Joseph to the finals.

For Groenhuyzen the key to coming up big in pressure situations was to remember the reason the team plays the sport.

"I just try to stay strong and keep up our team," Groenhuyzen said. "We always play better when we have fun."

The Lady Flyers had about a five-hour break between their win in the semifinal and the final match against Fort Worth Arlington Heights Knights, but during pregame warm ups there was a problem.

"My sugar went low and I didn't have enough to eat before the second game," Groenhuyzen said.

"I knew when I saw her on the bench I knew exactly what was wrong," said her mother.

Groenhuyzen came into the game midway through the first half of St. Joseph's 6-0 loss to Arlington Heights in the final.

The Lady Flyers were pleased with their second-place finish in the tournament.

"I think that builds a lot of confidence just going this far in the tournament," Horne said.

Added Groenhuyzen: "I think it showed us what we can do and what our potential is."

Although St. Joseph graduates six seniors after this season. the team returns young promising players like Groenhuyzen and Nicole Sontheime.

"I'm looking at them to bring the team up and keep it going for the next couple of years," Horne said.

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