Smith-Cotton track and field pole vaulter Vac Volk has some important equipment he needs to keep with him during meets. There’s his pole — he’s been breaking in a new one recently — and there’s something smaller which plays a bigger role in his life: his blood sugar monitor.
He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was in second grade and it has been something he has had to deal with ever since.
“My grandpa had it,” he said. “That kind of helped me get through it all. My girlfriend’s brother has it also and he’s had it since he was two. We can kind of relate to each other and see what they do and try new things.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, including 215,000 people under the age of 20. The ADA website explains that “exercise can help control blood glucose.”
During meets, Volk will disconnect from the insulin pump he uses.
“I have that instead of shots,” he said. “Instead of three, four shots a day it’s one shot every four days.”
Throughout meets he will check his blood sugar. If it starts to get low, he’ll eat a snack.
“If it’s not in range, a little above or a little below doesn’t have a big effect, but if it’s a lot higher than it should be, I cannot compete,” he said.
Volk said it is easier to manage during track meets than it is in the fall when he plays soccer.
“Soccer is continuous,” he said. “It’s a full hour and a half or two hours instead of breaks in between. Track it’s a little easier to manage instead of soccer where you have to wait to get subbed off the field.”
Volk was determined that diabetes wasn’t going to stop him from competing in either sport.
“That’s how my parents raised me, to not let that one thing slow me down,” he said.