When you watch her play lacrosse for Boyertown Area High School, you see nothing that would set her apart from her teammates. But there is something that is quite different about Maggie Morgan.
It was the summer before heading into sixth grade when Maggie was dignosed with juvenile diabetes. She is
a Type 1 diabetic, meaning that she has to give herself insulin shots a couple of times a day.
It wasn't until halfway through her freshman season that Coach Pam Wernersbach found that she was diabetic. "She never was treated any differently, and she would never expect anyone to treat her differently,' said BASH girls' lacrosse head coach Pam Wernersbach. "Her having the ability to compete, and compete well, in both hockey and lacrosse is really physically demanding. It's pretty awesome that a kid can do it the way she has.'
Maggie was 10 years old when she first started playing lacrosse. She started playing softball where her father (Frank) was coaching. Her sister, who is also her twin, didn't like softball, so she started playing lacrosse. The following year, Maggie realized that she didn't care for softball either, so she joined her sister in lacrosse. They both played in the Optimist Club of Boyertown "Bolt' program. She found that she liked lacrosse a lot better. "I like being active, and running, and being a part of the game the entire time,' said Maggie. "With softball, I just didn't feel that.'
The two sisters did a lot of things together, and they still do, but in third grade they decided they wanted to do things apart from each other. Maggie feels that may have been a part of the reason why her sister Emma wanted to play lacrosse, because they wanted to try things that were different from each other.
"When I joined the lacrosse team, we realized how great it was to do this together.. "As we got older, we realized that we have a connection on the field. If you play with girls on a team for a long period of time, you get use to them and you know where they are. A connection like that you really can't put a value on. It's great to play with her.'
It was the summer after fifth grade when she noticed something was amiss. She started to lose weight, and wasn't growing any taller, unlike her sister. Maggie was always tired and thirsty, and her face was often real pale. Her mother, Mindy, was the first to notice something was wrong, so she took Maggie to the doctor.
Her blood sugar was tested and it came back very high. With those results, Maggie spent two days at Hershey Medical Center. She was told she has diabetes.
Her first reaction, was to look at her mom and ask what diabetes was."I had no idea what diabetes was,' said Maggie. "My mom's first reaction was to cry. That really confused me. I didn't fully understand what was going on until they started explaining everything to me. At that point, I was still kind of confused, because I really didn't understand why, or how, I got it'
Despite the seriousness of her medical condition, Maggie was not going to let it slow her down. She was only 11 years old, but she was a determined 11-year-old.
She played in the Boyertown Optimist Club's Biddy Basketball Program despite her condition. Her father stayed for the first practice to make sure that everything was all right.
"I've always been that way (determined),' said Maggie. "I think that being diagnosed with diabetes has made me more determined. It's made me work harder for the things I want. It's made me realize in a big way that things don't happen as you plan. You have to fight for what you want, no matter what obstacles are in your way.'
Coach Wernersbach saw her for the first time as a freshman. She saw a kid (Maggie) who was pretty athletic, and had solid skills, along with being a very hard worker. Maggie listened to what her coaches told her and took instruction quite well, according to Coach Wernersbach.
Of course, Maggie has her ups and downs. She must constantly monitor her sugar level. On night of the PAC-10 girls' lacrosse championship game, her sugar spiked because she was very excited. When her sugars are high Maggie drinks extra water to help lower her sugar, but when they are down and she is weak and not able to play.
"It really hasn't stopped me from doing anything,' said Maggie. "There are times when I do have off days.'
Maggie can tell when her levels are up or when her blood sugars are down. If her blood sugar levels are down, she feels weak, her hands start to shake and she's confused. It takes her a long time to process things when a coach tells her what to do on the field. If her levels are up, she gets very thirsty and she needs to drink a lot of water.
Wernersbach can tell by watching her play if she's off with her sugar levels. She can tell when Maggie needs to be taken out of the game so she can go check her blood sugar levels."She's really good at taking care of what she needs to take care of,' said Wernersbach. "She restabilizes her levels and puts herself back in action.'Last week, Maggie and her teammates won Boyertown's 11th straight PAC-10 girls' lacrosse title. This year was extra special for Maggie since she didn't play much last season due to breaking her foot early in the season. This was her first time playing in the championship game.
"There are really no words to describe it,' said Maggie. "I know everyone expected it because we won so many times before. My teammates and I went into that game as if that was the first time we were winning the championship.'
Next fall Maggie will be majoring in bio-medical engineering in college. She's following in her father's footsteps in attending Penn State University. Maggie and her family have gone to many Penn State football games, so she is already very familiar with the school. With Maggie's determination and energy, there is no reason to think she won't do very well at Penn State, and do well at whatever she wants to do in her life.
Phil Haddad is a free lance writer for the Times. You can also follow him on twitter @writersprtsBT
10 of 1,647
Maggie Morgan girls lax feature
May 12 (1 day ago)