Diabetic kid turning hockey heads while overcoming Type 1 complications, News (Hamilton Jr Bulldogs)

PrintNews Article
Click to view full-size image
Diabetic kid turning hockey heads while overcoming Type 1 complications
Submitted By Scott Radley on Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The oversized nine-year-old with the quick feet isn't the only kid in the area with a big shot.

But listening to his coach talk about it certainly paints an impressive picture.

"He can take a wrist shot from centre ice and put it in the top corner," Derrick Stevens says.


The kid also isn't the only Grade 4 student who can throw a devastating bodycheck. But hearing his Hamilton Junior Bulldogs AAA minor atom coach tell how the boy consistently lowers his shoulder into other top players and flattens them, sounds amazing.

"He's an extremely good hockey player," Stevens says. "He's big and strong."

And he isn't the only youthful hockey player whose love of the game has no limit. But his coach's glowing words say much about his attitude and dedication.

"He's usually the first guy at the rink, and he's the only kid I know who gets upset if we cancel dry-land," Stevens says.

Impressive as all that is, is what really sets Riley MacRae apart.

He's made himself one of the best players in his league - which stretches from Brampton to Niagara Falls - while attached to an insulin pump that keeps him functioning on the ice.

Riley's a Type 1 diabetic. Has been since he was four.

More than a few times he's had the muscles in his legs tighten up and his head feel light during a game. Sometimes he'll all of a sudden lose his energy and instantly get tired. He calls it feeling low.

And over the past five years, he hasn't slept through the night even once, the result of having to test his blood every few hours with those horrible finger pricks, and the frequent urination caused by the disease.

"What he goes through ..." Stevens says, his sentence remaining unfinished.

It's a big part of the reason you don't find too many diabetics playing competitive sports.

For those of us without medical degrees, it goes something like this. Many diabetics need to inject insulin because their bodies can't generate it. At the same time, they need to offset it by eating a corresponding amount of complex carbohydrates.

Complicated? Yeah. Yet it gets worse.

Too much insulin floating around in a diabetic's body and he becomes hypoglycemic. Too little and his blood sugar soars. Both can be deadly.

Problem is, vigorous exercise causes the body to create glycogen - a blood sugar - so finding the right balance is a difficult and potentially dangerous job.

Then to top it off, throw in the unpredictable effects of adrenalin that also cause sugar spikes.

It's all tough enough to sort out for an adult. Now imagine doing it at age nine. But he does.

He's not alone. According to Dr. John VanderMeulen, head of McMaster's pediatric endocrinology department, more than 300 kids in the Hamilton area use the pump, though few at such a competitive level of sports.

Even with it, Riley's dad Rob - who also serves as team trainer so he's always nearby in the event of an emergency - keeps a close eye on him during ice times, to make sure things stay stable.

But the biggest help is that little device tucked inside the waistband of his hockey pants, which regulates how much insulin enters his body, and delivers it bit by bit.

It's not a foolproof system as evidenced by the lows he gets. And it has come loose in the middle of the action before. But it's a huge step over the hit and miss of injections.

Considering how relatively new this technology is and how rare it remains, it's remarkable that one of his hockey heroes - Ajay Baines, who's also diabetic and also wears a pump when he plays - plays for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Same uniform. Same position. Same passion for the game. Same device.

Seeing a pro going through the same thing and succeeding has been a huge inspiration to the young man. Which, in turn, has been big for the guy who scored the Calder Cup-winning goal last spring.

"For him to say he looks up to me for that, that means so much to me," Baines says.

For the Dogs' co-captain, the fact that a kid is wearing the pump and doing so well is remarkable. Because no matter how easy dealing with the disease may appear to someone looking in, it's not. There's never a comfort level. You don't control diabetes, you merely manage it.

It can be done. Baines does it. Bobby Clarke did it. Now Riley hopes to do it all the way to the NHL - "With the Leafs."

For now, though, just being able to play is enough.

[email protected]

905-526-2440

4th Auction For The Cure

Next Thursday, the fourth annual Auction For The Cure goes at Michelangelo Banquet Centre, with proceeds going to diabetes research. Riley McRae's dad, Rob, organizes the event, which raised $93,000 last year. It has brought in $297,000 since it started through a silent and live auction. For tickets or information, email [email protected]

This article has been viewed 2618 times.
Social Networking
Follow Us On
Follow Hamilton Jr Bulldogs on Twitter
Quick Links
Manage Subscriptions
Signup to receive email or text messages for the teams you want to follow.
News ArchiveOther Recent Articles
  • 11
    Oct
    Organization
    By Bob Hill, OMHA President, 10/10/20, 10:15AM EDT With the Ontario government tightening restrictions in three major urban areas because of COVID-19, we at the OMHA would like to remind our participants around the province we remain in what’s ...
  • 09
    Oct
    Organization
    By Scott Radley, Spectator Columnist - Fri., Oct. 9, 2020     There have been some unfortunate spelling mistakes on the Stanley Cup over the years. Bob Gainey went on there as Gainy one time. Burlington’s Gaye Stewart became Gave Stewart. Jacques ...
  • 01
    Oct
    Organization
    Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs’ professional hockey talents were in the mix at the NHL Stanley Cup with two players with Jr. Bulldogs’ connections fighting for hockey’s biggest crown - Carter Verhaeghe of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nick Caamano of the ...
  • 24
    Sep
    Organization
    To: OHF Members From: Phillip McKee, Executive Director Date: 9/23/2020 Re: Equipment in Car Seats   The Ontario Hockey Federation would like to remind all Minor Hockey Associations, Coaches and Parents to remove shoulder and chest pads, padded ...
  • 07
    Sep
    Organization
    Welcome to all HJB Players and their Families, HJB Coaching Staff and HJB Development Staff to the HJB’s 2020-21 RTP Hockey Program.  You will have received communication from your Head Coach about which session you will be participating during this ...
  • 06
    Sep
    Organization
    The season of 2019-20 proved to be another remarkable year for the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs organization.  The Minor PeeWee Team finished in first place to win the SCTA League Championship while 4 Teams (Minor PeeWee, PeeWee, Minor Bantam and Bantam) ...
  • 06
    Sep
    Organization
    By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 09/04/20, 1:00PM EDT CLARIFYING THE ANSWERS TO POPULAR QUESTIONS  In support of the announcement of OMHA Return to Play - OHF Stage 3b) programming, please find below additional answers to more specific ...
  • 21
    Aug
    Organization
    Registration Thank you everyone, for your patience over the past few months. I know a lot of families have been waiting patiently and wondering what will hockey look like for the 2020 season. The starting point for this process is opening up ...
Printed from hamiltonjrbulldogs.com on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 4:10 PM