West Kelowna’s Danni Collins is a 13-year old fastball catcher who is not going to let Type 1 diabetes interfere with her love of the game.
The West Kelowna teen wants to let people know that just because you have Type 1, your life doesn’t stop unless you make it stop.
Danni, a Grade 9 student at Glenrosa Middle School, is a catcher on the Enderby Storm Elite under-14 fastball team that includes players from throughout the Okanagan as well as Trail.
The team travels all through the United States and to the coast.
The Storm Elite was undefeated as they took gold at the B.C. championships in July and qualified for the Western Canadian championships in Winnipeg in August, where they finished fourth.
Collins had no issues with her diabetes at Westerns or at provincials and caught in the gold medal game at provincials.
Collins, the youngest of four fastball-playing sisters, has been playing since she was three years old.
She was 10 when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after going to a clinic because she was feeling unwell and thirsty all the time.
Danni was sent to Kelowna General Hospital where she spent six days as staff worked to stabilize her insulin levels and she learned about coping with Type 1 diabetes.
The diagnosis was a shock to her family.
Danni’s mom Cindy was initially traumatized, asking herself what she did wrong.
She then learned Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
Type 1 is not linked to diet, being overweight or lack of exercise.
Its cause is unknown and there is currently no known cure.
Those with Type 1 control the glucose levels in their blood by taking insulin using a syringe or pump.
Danni’s diagnosis came a week before the start of ball season.
She played her first game two days after being released from hospital.
“She wasn’t going to let Type 1 stop her from playing,” said Cindy.
Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes has a big impact on sports, because if Danni’s blood sugar is low, she can’t play until her numbers recover.
Danni adjusts her insulin levels during sports, as travelling, different sleep patterns and adrenaline all affect her sugars.
She checks her blood sugar levels frequently during sports using a small sensor she puts in her arm that she can quickly scan with a reader, eliminating the need to prick her finger.
She has learned to balance fastball, school and Type 1 diabetes.
Danni loves fastball, from being behind the plate to coming to bat.
“I think it's her own little reprieve from school and from diabetes for a bit, because she is just focusing strictly on ball and we focus on her being OK,” said Cindy.
Like any sport, fastball takes commitment. Games start in April, with Danni playing once or twice a week plus tournaments at least two weekends a month as well as training days. In the off season, Danni puts in hours of weekly training as well as indoor practice.
Danni wants to play ball in college.
“Ball is part of her future, wherever that takes her,” said Cindy.