When the calendar flips to July, Kathryn Friedmann knows there no place she’d rather be than in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.
The town, located 20 minutes from Chattanooga in the Smoky Mountains, is the site of the Tennessee Camp for Diabetic Children. This is where Friedmann, who just completed her senior season on the Coker soccer team, learned that she wasn’t alone in dealing with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.
“My friends there are my role models,” said Friedmann, who learned she had the disease about a month before her 11th birthday. “Some of my best friends go to this camp every year. I’ve grown up with them. It is a huge part how I’ve grown with this disease.”
Her first year at the camp left her pondering, “Where did all these kids come from?” Seeing people her age handling their condition is always refreshing for Friedmann, who grew up 15 minutes from Nashville in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
“In my normal element, I have to take extra steps and think about taking my blood sugar and my insulin,” she said. “But at camp, I look around and one of my friends is doing the same thing. It’s a surreal world.”
For as much inspiration she’s gained from her camp buddies, Friedmann is impressive herself. During her collegiate career, she became Coker’s fifth all-time leading goal scorer (29) and ranks sixth all-time in total points (66).
She produced at a high level despite having to leave the field at times during matches to check her blood-sugar level. During those times, the Cobras would play a player down until she was able to return.
“I pretty much managed it myself,” said Friedmann, who will graduate in May with a double major in communications and English. “I just tried to keep a good tune on how my body felt and how I was playing. Some of the symptoms have changed over the years.”
She knows the type of aggressiveness she normally plays with, and when she felt her body wasn’t responding to what her mind was telling it to do, it was time to check her blood-sugar level.
Off the field, Friedmann wears an insulin pump, but the device wouldn’t survive a soccer match.
“It doesn’t feel too good when that thing gets ripped out of you,” Friedmann said.
Since November is the national diabetes awareness month, Friedmann is an example of the type of life a person can lead while managing the disease.
“There are worse things you can have,” she said. “I’m fully functional. I can do anything I want and succeed. My motivation is to steer away from stereotypes or assumptions.”
Friedmann, who is applying to graduate schools to further her education in communications, is active on the Coker campus. Besides serving as one of the captains on her soccer team, she is president of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honors Society and president of the Coker women’s golf club.
“I have the natural tendency to step up when I feel there is a need,” said Friedmann, who also works part time as a writing tutor and in the Coker admissions office. “At some point during my career, whether it is academically or athletically, I’ve had to step up.”
Since she began playing soccer at the age of 4, she knows it will take time to adjust to the fact that the sport will become more of a recreational endeavor now.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Friedmann, who led Coker with seven goals and 17 points this season. “I was working out the other day on a treadmill and started thinking, ‘I wish I could run out and get a few touches on the ball.’ That was a few days after we finished our season.”
Running half marathons is one way she hopes to quench her competitive thirst.
Of course, she’ll always look forward to July for those two weeks in Soddy-Daisy to meet with her friends and help other kids learn how to live an active lifestyle with diabetes.
**Story reprinted with permission of NCAA News**