Kirya Kingery Played D1 Softball, Battled Type 1 Diabetes
Being a collegiate student-athlete can be challenging, especially with obstacles at several corners of one's journey. But for Morehead State University infielder Kirya Kingery, an especially difficult challenge presented itself when she was in the eighth grade. Back then, Kingery was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and now it is a part of her life on a daily basis.
Kingery graduated from Morehead State in the spring and has since reflected on managing her condition throughout her collegiate career.
Softball America interviewed Kingery about what it was like for her to play Division I softball while battling type 1 diabetes. Read the interview below.
Softball America: How and when did you first find out you had type 1 diabetes?
Kirya Kingery: When I was in middle school, I ran cross country. A few times after my races, I could feel myself getting sick, but my parents and I weren’t sure what it was. Then, one night, I had to wake up and (urinate) 11 different times, so my mom called the doctor. I went in and that’s when they told us I have type 1 diabetes. I was in eighth grade then and I’m 22 now, so I’ve been living with it for almost nine years.
SA: What was it like for you to play softball as a type 1 diabetic?
KK: It was definitely a bit of a challenge. There would be days when my sugar was fine, and there would be days when it wasn’t fine. I just had to find what worked for me and how to adjust to the softball lifestyle I was living. Sometimes I’d be mad at the world for having to go up to bat with my sugar being low and striking out, but in the end, it made me a stronger person and a person who can get through anything life throws at me.
SA: Did you feel different from your teammates as a result of your condition?
KK: My teammates were always super inclusive and understanding of my diabetes. Of course, I’d get the typical jokes every now and then, but they were super supportive and had my back all the time. The only time I felt different is when it affected me during things like a tough workout or hard practice, and I had to stop to fix my sugar. However, that’s just living with this disease, you have to go day by day.
SA: What was your routine like while you played college softball?
KK: It varied daily, but usually we would start with conditioning or weights, then head to our food court and get some breakfast. Then, I’d have class, practice, meetings and homework. Between all of that, I had to make sure I found time to eat. It’s important all athletes eat, but it’s vital that I eat or I wouldn’t be able to do what other people can.
SA: Did you ever feel like quitting because of the challenges?
KK: If you haven’t thought about quitting your collegiate sport at least once, then you didn’t actually play one. Some days were easier than others, but in the end, I got through them all. The challenges I overcame are what built me into the strong, hard-working woman I am today.
SA: How did you manage playing college softball at the Division l level while also taking care of yourself as a type 1 diabetic?
KK: Mentality is a powerful thing. I’d say that was my biggest asset through all of this. Whether my sugar was low, I was tired or even sick, my mind had to be stronger than my body. I just had to stay on top of my stuff and learn time management. It took a little while to adjust and figure out a schedule, but once you get it, you’ll be in the same pattern and things become easier.
SA: Why did you decide to continue to play softball with your condition?
KK: I have so much love for the game, and love for my family, who loves to watch me play. There are going to be obstacles and challenges in every part of life, but what separates us are the people who are willing to push through the challenges and make themselves better.
SA: What is your advice to a high school player who hopes to play softball in college but has type 1 diabetes?
KK: Keep an eye on your sugar. Other than that, just have fun and try not to let it affect you more than it already does.