prevails over
chronic illness
Diabetes is a disease that, unless science makes further strides, will never completely disappear from the life of Woodstock Academy senior Gabe Geyer.
The three-sport athlete was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes when he was 11.
He is insulin dependent which means his body does not produce the hormone and relies upon an insulin pump to regulate his blood sugar, specifically, whenever he eats.
He also has a continuous glucose monitor to keep tabs on his blood sugar level and to make sure that is in the “safe” range.
It has not slowed him down.
He is a member of the soccer, hockey and lacrosse teams at The Academy.
The family found out about Gabe’s condition on Jan. 25, 2014, a day the family now kiddingly refers to as the “diaversary.”
Gabe was in fourth grade and already playing hockey at the time.
“It was very subtle. It was very hard to determine that anything was wrong. He was always a very active kid, involved in sports year-round, very involved in school and clubs,” recalled his mother, Sharon Geyer.
But she noticed subtle changes. His skin began to dry out and he was all over the map emotionally.
Sharon went to a counselor at the Pomfret Community School who suggested she take Gabe to the family doctor first to rule out any physical malady.
“Our doctor diagnosed him in the office and sent us straight to Hartford to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center emergency room. It was a whirlwind,” Sharon said.
Fortunately, the staff at CCMC took the Geyer family through the process including training and support as to how to cope with the disease.
“It didn’t mean a lot being so young and knowing so little. You really don’t know what they’re saying. It’s just a lot of words which have no meaning to you so you don’t get the full picture of how this will change your life in an instant. I did know that from there on, things would be different. It was pretty scary,” Gabe said.
His life is now regulated by an insulin pump.
“I do wear it any time I’m not exercising because my insulin has to be regulated constantly because I don’t produce any insulin which is a hormone that is really important to the digestion of sugar. If you don’t get it quickly, your body shuts down quickly,” Gabe said.
While diabetes is not life threatening, a diabetic coma, brought on by high or low blood sugar, is.
He learned a lot, embraced the process after attending the Barton Center for Diabetes Education summer camp in Oxford, Mass.
As a freshman, Gabe introduced himself to his coaches at Woodstock Academy in a different manner.
“My mom reminded me that I had to tell them and I went up to (boys’ soccer) coach (Paul) Rearden and said ‘Hi, my name is Gabe Geyer. I have Type-1 diabetes but I have everything under control and I might need to go to the sidelines really quick.’ He was like, ‘Cool,’” Gabe said.
Rearden may have been cool on the outside. Under the surface, he was worried as it was the first time he'd ever worked with an athlete who had diabetes .
Woodstock Academy boys’ hockey coach Kevin Bisson knew a little more. He had a player on a youth hockey team that he coached who had diabetes.
“The most we’ve ever addressed it is at practice where he sometimes has to go and check his (blood sugar) levels. He has a great handle on it and he certainly doesn’t use it as an excuse,” Bisson said.
Last year, Bisson had the team fill out a questionnaire about personal and team goals. The last question was to write down the names of two teammates whom they considered to be the hardest workers on the ice. Gabe was a unanimous selection by his teammates.
“It was a life lesson for me. (He showed me) that you can’t let something like (diabetes) hinder your life. Just the way he dealt with it on the field with no panic. He would just tell me, ‘Coach, I need (a break).’What an attitude. I have nothing but total respect for that kid. A great kid, a great player and he never held anything back,” Rearden said.
Gabe is not a big stats guy. He finished with just one goal in soccer as a junior and had an assist this soccer season. He had three assists on the ice last year and a goal and three assists in his sophomore lacrosse season. Geyer’s claim to fame is on the defensive end of all three venues.
The sports, however, exact different tolls on his body.
The consistent slow paced running in soccer with some sprinting really drops his blood sugar levels, he said. But with hockey, he said, "your body releases adrenalin a lot easier so I tend to go really high in games and practices,” Gabe said.
His days of playing competitive, organized, team sports may be coming to an end following this spring’s lacrosse season.
Gabe plans to attend a Division I school, Boston College, where his athletic endeavors will likely be limited to club and recreational activities.
He plans to study chemistry, the subject his mother teaches at Woodstock Academy.
Sharon said Gabe has done an incredible job of taking ownership of the management of his illness.
That will come even more into play in Boston where Mom and Dad will not be around.
“It’s been a huge relief because there are so many times when we can’t be there. We try to go to all the games, but we feel confident that we don’t always have to be right next to him. He knows what to do,” Sharon said. “It has required Gabe to take a real mature approach to his life. He has to think through things and plan ahead. He’s learned along the way. He doesn’t always get it right but he has had to grow up and has really embraced it.”
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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