What does soccer have in common with managing your diabetes?

In both cases, you need a team to win. And for years, my family was the team I counted on to help manage my diabetes.

I was first diagnosed in sixth grade. It wasn’t always easy, but mom and dad helped me do the finger sticks to check my blood sugar, get my supplies, and keep an eye on what I ate. As I got older I took on more responsibility for managing my diabetes, but always knew my family – my team – had my back.

That changed when I went to college. I love my parents, but didn’t necessarily want them to be my freshman year roommates. When I left home to study Electrical Engineering and play soccer at The College of New Jersey, my mom was a wreck. I acted brave, but I had my worries too: What would I do if I woke up in the middle of the night with a hypo? What would I do without my family if I really needed help?

It turns out I didn’t leave my family behind – I gained 30 new brothers in my soccer team. Now they've got my back too.

I opened up to them about my diabetes, how it makes me feel, and how they can look for signs to know when I need help. I was nervous at first, but that didn’t last long – they were really interested and wanted to help! Even little things make a difference: One time my teammate noticed I was acting off and asked if I needed sugar or something. It was no big deal to him but meant a lot to me. It’s good to know your friends are there for you.

So to anyone else with diabetes who started college this fall, I have some advice: Open up to your new friends about your disease. They may be more understanding than you think. And like me, you’ll find that whether it’s on the field, or managing your diabetes, you’ll be grateful to have your team’s support.