August 27, 2003 - by
Chris Hall — Seminoles’ Punter Kicking Diabetes

Aug. 27, 2003

Junior punter Chris Hall of the Florida State football team and Seminole head coach Bobby Bowden have a lot in common.

They were both offensive players during their careers with Hall playing fullback before switching to punter and Bowden playing quarterback throughout his playing days.

They both enjoy the sport of golf with Hall majoring in professional golf management and Bowden hitting the course every chance he gets outside of football season.

They also share another bond: both Hall and Bowden are diabetics.

Hall has Type 1 or juvenile diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at age 12. Bowden has Type 2 diabetes and he was diagnosed in 2001.

That’s where the similarities end for Hall and Bowden. Hall must control his diabetes with daily injections of insulin while Bowden controls his with exercise and a proper diet.

According to the American Diabetes Association, “In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. Complications of diabetes may include heart and kidney disease and eye damage if it is not properly treated on a daily basis.”

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes according to the ADA. “In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. When glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems: the cells in your body can be starved for energy, or, over time high glucose levels can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.”

Hall, who recently earned a scholarship, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1985 when his mother became alarmed after he lost 40 pounds in less than a month. She took him to the family doctor who checked his blood sugar levels and immediately put him in the hospital. He spent the next seven days in the hospital getting the disease under control.

“It was a shock at first to learn that I had diabetes,” said Hall. “But it really hasn’t stopped me from doing anything that I’ve wanted to since then. I just have to be careful with what I eat and watch my sugar levels. I have been able to continue playing sports and doing everything I had done before I found out I had diabetes.

Getting his diabetes under control meant learning how to check his blood sugar and learning how to inject himself with the insulin his body needs to function properly.

“I check my blood sugar with a meter six to eight times a day and I take four or five shots of insulin a day,” said Hall. “I just have to be careful and watch my sugar intake.”

Hall injects himself with two types of insulin each day. He takes one shot that lasts him for each 24-hour period and a shot for each meal he eats. The amount of insulin he injects each time depends on the number of carbohydrates he eats with each meal.

Hall estimates he has taken over 10,000 injections of insulin in the seven years since he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Hall experimented with an insulin pump during the 2002 season but stopped using it when spring practice ended.

“An insulin pump is going to be great when I get a real job behind a desk,” Said Hall. “I’m too active to have a pump right now. With all of the sweating and working I do at practice and during games, I found the pump would easily become infected. It was too much of a hassle and I figured the best way to take care of it was to just continue checking my blood sugar more often.”

Though diabetes hasn’t changed his lifestyle, it did necessitate a position change on the football field. Hall, the a candidate to be the Seminoles’ starting punter this season, was a fullback until his doctor recommended a position switch during his freshman year of high school. His doctor simply didn’t like how Hall was taking care of his body or monitoring his sugars as a field player.

“My doctor wanted me to control my diabetes better,” said Hall. “I liked football and I liked to kick so I thought I would do that and be good at it. I played soccer when I was little so that helped me as a kicker.

“I think the only thing diabetes has stopped me from doing is really being able to push myself like many of the other guys on the team,” said Hall. “I have to know my limitations, know when to stop and know when too much activity is too much. I have to watch myself a little bit more closely and stay a little bit more on top of myself than the other players.”

Randy Oravetz, Florida State’s Director of Sports Medicine since 1986, watches Hall during both practices and games. Hall, according to Oravetz, is the third Seminole football player with diabetes since he began working with the team as a student trainer in 1975.

“Our staff monitors him during practices and games,” said Oravetz. “We make sure we have extra needles with us along with nutritional supplements that are designed to help his sugar level. Sometimes he will eat one of those before a game or before a practice.”

The Seminole training staff has packets of Hall’s medicine — his needles and insulin – in three different places on the practice field in case of an emergency. Fortunately, there have never been any situations where Oravetz has been forced to utilize one of those packets.

Games are no different than practices. Hall eats the same pre-game meals as his teammates and does not require any special orders. He can eat whatever is served as long as he watches his carbohydrate and sugar intake.

“I mainly watch my carbohydrate and sugar intake and try to stay away from a lot of sweets,” said Hall. “I drink diet drinks and normally shy away from any kind of snacks unless I need to eat them for the sugar. Really, I can eat any type of food but I have to eat foods with fewer carbohydrates to make it easier for my body to maintain its sugar level.”

“Chris and I talk about it (diabetes) a lot because I have it too,” said Bowden. “But mine is different from his because I can control it with exercise and diet and I don’t have to take any kind of medicine. But he acts like he hasn’t got it. He’s had it since he was 12 and he knows how to handle it. He knows what to look for.”

Hall and Bowden have many things in common including their ability to handle the responsibilities of diabetes. Perhaps though the one thing they have most in common is their desire to return the Seminoles to the top of the college football world in 2003.

By Chuck Walsh
Associate Sports
Information Director
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