I Was Afraid of My Son Playing Soccer with Type 1

A mother learns how to let go.



Until recently, I wouldn’t let my son, Branden, play soccer because of his Type 1 diabetes.

Branden was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 2, and spent a week in intensive care at the time. When he was 6 years old, we decided to enroll him in a local soccer league, but I soon began to have doubts. I worried about what playing such a physically demanding sport would do to his blood sugar levels, and I envisioned him collapsing on the soccer field.  

My fears overwhelmed me, and I ended up withdrawing Branden from the league and returning the soccer equipment to the sports store. I wasn’t willing to take the risk that I could lose him.  

Throughout much of Branden’s life, I’ve been working hard to protect him. I visited 12 different daycare facilities before finding one that would allow me to enroll him. Of course, that daycare required me to test and treat him on my lunch hour.  

When I enrolled him in kindergarten at a local public school, the staff really didn’t want to make the effort to accommodate his diabetes. Within two weeks of school starting, my son was “red-starred” by his teacher and sent to the principal. When I asked what he did wrong, I was told the teacher said he kept insisting on going to the nurse, but she felt he was using his diabetes as a crutch for bad behavior.  All of this took place while Branden’s blood sugar was 327 mg/dL. After that, I quit working and homeschooled Branden.

Branden is now eight, and he still wants to play soccer. Luckily for him, I came across an Insulin Nation article about professional soccer players with Type 1. The article made me realize that people with Type 1 can play soccer and stay healthy. It also made me understand that it wasn’t the diabetes that was preventing my son from playing soccer – it was me!  

Since this moment of enlightenment, I took the plunge and enrolled Branden in a soccer league.

It was the best decision I’ve made. Branden is learning about the game, and we have found we can manage his diabetes quite well. I’ve also noticed an improvement in his behavior, with a significant reduction in hyperactivity.  

As parents, we strive to protect our kids, but I’ve learned through trial and error that there are limits. Now, I sit on the sidelines with a cooler full of drinks and insulin and smile as Branden runs on by.

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Sherrie is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University. From 1991 through 2012, she worked as a private investigator for both private and governmental entities. She currently resides in Florida with her husband, her son, two dogs, two horses, and 70 chickens.