King overcomes diabetes to help JFK contend for a title
After finishing second to state champion Eden last year, John F. Kennedy’s girls volleyball team returns a few key athletes and some promising juniors to try and take the top spot in Section VI.
One of those seniors is Allie King, who is not only competes for her team, but also in an ongoing battle with diabetes.
Just before volleyball began in 2010, King was hospitalized with Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).
Type 1 diabetics have low amounts of insulin (a hormone that breaks down glucose for energy). Fat is broken down if there is no glucose, which then builds up ketones and turns blood and urine into acid. This poisonous level of ketones is called DKA.
A common cold is easy enough to trigger DKA in type 1 diabetics. Before King’s diagnosis she was sick; very prickly, dehydrated and vomiting. It wasn’t until her doctors found a kidney stone during a check up days later that it was identified.
“Sometimes you can’t tell when those kind of things are going to happen,” King said. “You just have to stay on top of things.”
King was hospitalized for about a week, missing the first few days of volleyball.
“She’s devastated when she has to miss anything,” said her mother, Deanna Crimi. “Whenever she has to miss sports, school functions, or being with her friends, that’s worse on her than being in the hospital.”
“As soon as I was out I was back in school and started volleyball,” King said. “The school is so small and the sports are so big here. We’re like a big family.”
King was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes right after her sixth birthday. She spent two weeks in intensive care. One month later, Crimi moved with her daughter from California to Buffalo, just in time for the blizzard of December 2001.
Knowing how important exercise is for diabetics, Crimi has always encouraged athletics for her daughter. King started dancing, but got too busy playing volleyball and softball in middle school. She added cheerleading and bowling in high school, and is also the senior class treasurer.
On the volleyball team, King plays her part as an essential role player for the JFK Bears. But coach Don Smith loves her light-hearted attitude, as well.
“She’s the spirit of the team,” said Smith, the second year coach. “She’s always the first to cheer, very encouraging and has an infectious laugh. As far as a team player, I don’t think I can ask for a better girl.”
Smith became the coach in 2011. With new coaches also on modified and junior varsity, he had no idea what to anticipate. However, he led the Bears to a 9-3 record.
This year, they lost their first game at Eden in a three-game sweep but bounced back at home against Holland 3-0.
Also for the Bears, senior Lisa Hoffman has been a key player. Making all-division first team as a junior, Hoffman has even higher hopes for her senior year.
“I’d like to make All-ECIC,” said Hoffman. “That’s what I’m hoping. If I work as hard as I can, that’s what I’m hoping.”
“Lisa is incredibly determined and very much a perfectionist,” said Smith. “With all of the ability she has, she can become a really dominant player.”
King and Hoffman are probably the closest girls on the team. After moving from California in first grade, Hoffman was the first friend King made.
“Lisa’s definitely my best friend,” King said. “She’s really funny, such a sweetheart.”
Aware of King’s condition, Hoffman has also been quite helpful to her friend.
“Lisa has actually changed my insulin pump before,” said King. “She checks my blood sugar. We check hers sometimes, too.”
The insulin pump is a device that is inserted into a cite, which King wears on her hip), acting as a pancreas and continuously adds insulin. King’s is pink and so small that “everyone thinks it’s a pager.” It is an alternative to needle injections, which King switched from in sixth grade.
The pump has malfunctioned, and King has been hospitalized for ketones when it increases her blood sugar too much. But ever since she had DKA, King has been healthy and practically lives a normal life.
“She’s very active and participates just as much as anyone else can and more,” said Hoffman. “I love her. She’s great.”
After last year’s success, King and the team are anxious to see what this season holds.
“Our team is just going to get better as the season goes on,” said coach Smith. “Our girls really don’t have much quit in them.”
“I think we’re really good,” said King. “We’ve played with each other since seventh grade. So we’re not cocky, but we know how skilled we are.”