GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Umpires and coaches occasionally halt a softball game to ask about the device Sid McElroy is wearing on her hip.
Some umpires think it’s an iPod or MP3 player. An opposing coach once thought it was a radio. McElroy giggles at the suggestions.
If Oak Hills softball coach Jackie Cornelius-Bedel didn’t inform the umpires or opposing team before the game about McElroy’s insulin pump, then she may be called into duty in the fourth inning or so.
McElroy, 17, is used to the questions from those who aren’t part of the team.
The senior shortstop has Type 1 diabetes, a condition that requires her to be cognizant of her blood sugar levels before, during and after a game.
McElroy, a four-year starter and one of Oak Hills’ top players, has a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that connects to her iPhone. By using a Dexcom app, she will see an arrow pointing up or down to signal her blood sugar levels. She’s been using the app for nine months.
"I was nervous when Sid first came on the team," Cornelius-Bedel said. "I was worried we'd miss something with her diabetes. We assigned her a partner and someone to go get her insulin bag if needed. However, Sid proved early on she had it all under control.
"Modern technologies have taken the 'scare' out of it as her low counts are monitored electronically. I find myself telling her to check her sugar more than she does on her own. After four years, we've got our system down."
Diagnosed at 8 years old, McElroy started playing softball before her diagnosis. She had injections the first year and received the insulin pump a year later.
“When I first got diagnosed we didn’t really know what to do with it and how to manage it,” McElroy said. “We were really cautious about softball and all that. But, it’s gotten a lot easier and all my coaches have been really helpful and supportive.”
Jennifer McElroy, Sid’s mom, says her daughter has dealt with the diabetes “amazingly.” Jennifer has the Dexcom app too and follows along during games to make sure she can maintain healthy levels between fielding and batting.
“Her teammates are super understanding,” Jennifer said. “They want to make sure she is OK.”
Before every time of eating, Sid has to carefully consider the carbs. She wears the pump every day and only removes it for a brief moment while taking a morning shower.
“If my blood sugar is high while I am playing then I can’t focus,” McElroy said. “But if I am low I feel really weak so it’s hard for me to be out in the field. So I just have to constantly make sure it’s in a good range.”
After waking up at 6:30 a.m. she usually eats an oatmeal breakfast before going to school. She has a snack around 10 a.m. For lunch, it’s usually grilled chicken or lean ground beef with sweet potatoes.
If a game is scheduled that day (5 p.m. first pitch), she usually has a light sandwich or apple an hour before.
For dinner, chicken is usually the item of choice again. Sid is used to the routine. If she forgets, there are reminders from those around her.
“I used to struggle with it mentally thinking it would bother me and constantly worrying about it,” McElroy said. “I’ve had it for long enough now that I have it under control; it’s kind of something that doesn’t bother me or faze me.”
McElroy, who is hitting .512 and is one of the best shortstops to have gone through the Oak Hills program, actively works out in the gym. She’s using her condition as a basis for a study of dietetics at the University of Cincinnati next school year.
"She is super healthy and likes eating well," said Oak Hills junior pitcher Sami Reese, who verbally committed to Rio Grande this past weekend. "She is the best teammate. She is so talented."
McElroy visits Cincinnati Children’s Hospital every three months and after one particular visit, she started grilling a nutritionist about food. When Sid returned home, she started looking for a college program with dietetics.
“It kind of found her,” Jennifer said.
McElroy will continue to play travel ball this summer and hopes to play softball recreationally in college. For now, she’s soaking in her senior season on Ebenezer Road.
“She has enjoyed every minute of it,” Jennifer said.