Meet Colleen McDermott: TT1 Global Ambassador

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Colleen McDermott
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"The whole world came to a screeching halt and everyone has had to put their life on pause. In some ways, it can feel selfish to be upset about not being able to simply row when there are much larger issues on the horizon that our world is struggling with."

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Colleen McDermott, University of Miami, Rowing
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I got an email on a Tuesday in mid-March about not returning to classes for a month due to COVID-19. It was our last practice indoors, and Wednesday we returned to practices on the water. Thursday, we had another practice on the water, and it felt great to get back to rowing in a boat rather than training on an erg. I was thrilled to be back with my teammates in a boat, working hard together and in sync while also having fun. Friday was my birthday, and it was unfortunately shadowed by the devastating email that we would not be returning to in person classes for the rest of the semester. There was no last practice, no final regatta, no culmination of the hours of training and sweat put in to the season. 

The whole world came to a screeching halt and everyone has had to put their life on pause. In some ways, it can feel selfish to be upset about not being able to simply row when there are much larger issues on the horizon that our world is struggling with. However, the heartbreak I feel for my senior teammates and my sense of loss I feel for a sport I love so much should not be invalid because of this. I think that is the hardest things I have faced in handling my emotions during the pandemic; feeling grief for what I have lost due to the pandemic and recognizing the pandemic’s impact on a national and global level are not mutually exclusive. It’s ok to feel a sense of grief for what I have lost- in person classes, rowing, a sense of normal- while also addressing the bigger problem and the major sacrifices and struggles occurring throughout the world. Everyone is at a loss right now.

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"Both physical and mental health are important to keep in check and manage during these times, especially when they both influence my blood sugar and management."

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The only thing in my control now is to focus on what I can do next year. I have been lucky enough to bring an erg home and continue training in that manner. While it does not compare at all to rowing on the water or even erging with my teammates, but I owe it to myself, my team, and the seniors who got their final time on the water abruptly taken away, to continue training and staying in shape. We have group chats for our women’s team where we can send our workout to motivate others, and that has been a huge help since we are not physically together. 

Managing T1D during the pandemic has definitely been interesting since my whole schedule changed drastically. Setting a schedule for when I eat, take classes and study, and work out has been the most helpful thing I have done for my management. Continuing to work out daily and being active at the same each day has helped with not only my diabetes, but also my mental health during this. It helps me reestablish some sense of normal since I would be working out daily with practice if this was not happening. Both physical and mental health are important to keep in check and manage during these times, especially when they both influence my blood sugar and management. 

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Today, Team Type 1 is the world’s largest diabetes and sports organization with more than 170 athletes with type 1 diabetes. Their programs focus on affordable access to diabetes medication and care all over the globe.

A cornerstone initiative, the Global Ambassador Scholarship Program, awards college scholarships to US-based student-athletes with diabetes attending and playing a sport for an NCAA or NAIA school. The funds awarded offset the financial burden diabetes places on families and allows students to focus on what’s important – their health and their education. Beginning in 2020, TT1 will focus its efforts on affordable access to diabetes care in the States. By working with industry, government, patients, and other key stakeholders, TT1 will fight to make insulin affordable to everyone who needs it to live.