The Student News Site of Hutchison School

Playing Through the Pain

October 4, 2019


As many of you know, Hutchison has a very successful athletic department that contains 12 sports teams. What many of you don’t know are the challenges certain athletes face on and off the field. These challenges are not just hard workouts and pain-staking practices, but medical conditions that make playing a sport even more difficult. Every sport challenges an athlete mentally and physically as they often push participants to the breaking point. There are many different medical conditions that athletes have, but three of the more common conditions within the Hutchison athletic community are scoliosis, asthma, and diabetes.

Varsity soccer player Emily Fonville’s ‘20 life was altered when she woke up from a coma diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease in which her body destroyed her insulin-producing beta cells that regulate blood sugar. A normal blood sugar level is 100-120, and if it drops below that, you begin to feel the effects. Fonville knows that having diabetes means “it takes extra work,” but she is determined to “not let diabetes get in the way of competing on a team.” Fonville relies on John Michael Leppert and Alex Price who are the sports trainers at Hutchison. Emily has learned to “be grateful for the help others are willing to give.”

Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, can only be cured by inserting a metal rod into a person’s spine; this makes playing volleyball particularly hard for Emery Brown ‘23. She says the hardest part about having scoliosis is “the strain it causes on her entire body.” Brown says having this condition makes running especially difficult because it affects her back so much. She often fears that she is not doing her physical therapy correctly, which is why she often visits the volleyball trainer, Alex Price. “Having scoliosis has taught me the importance of having a strong work ethic and to never underestimate myself.”

Another common condition within the Hutchison community is asthma, which is a condition in which a person’s airway swells and begins to narrow. Many things can trigger an asthma attack, but one of the most common triggers is exercise. Alexandra Howser ‘23 has discovered that having asthma is often a setback when it comes to volleyball. She explained, “In volleyball I am constantly moving, and I normally have an attack if I am moving at rapid pace, which is very scary for me.” Having an illness that is so unpredictable like asthma means that there is a constant fear in the back of Alexandra’s mind. Although she struggles with this condition, she knows that if she keeps a positive mindset, she can overcome all the challenges.

When you play a competitive sport in which your objective is to win and be your best, many outside factors can damage that goal. Every day, these Hutchison athletes are faced with difficult circumstances but continue to try their best for self-improvement. This shows how strong and powerful these athletes are; Fonville, Brown, and Howser exemplify integrity and perseverance everyday on the field or the court, and they show that no setback is too great or too difficult to overcome.

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