Opposite teams, same cause
On Wednesday night in Waco, Texas, the 2019 Division I national champion Baylor Lady Bears and the 2019 Division II national champion Lubbock Christian Lady Chaps face off in an exhibition game. It’ll also be a family affair, as Baylor senior Lauren Cox takes the court against her younger sister, LCU freshman Whitney Cox.
But it’s also much more than a high-profile exhibition — more than basketball, even.
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Wednesday night is Baylor’s fourth annual Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Game. And in case you’re doing some math in your head, yes, this is Lauren’s fourth season at Baylor.
“My freshman year, Coach [Kim] Mulkey was really interested in my diabetes, she wanted to see my insulin pump, she wanted me to watch me test my blood sugar,” Lauren told High Post Hoops. “And it was kind of her idea, like, let’s do a Type 1 awareness game.”
Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas has trouble producing insulin, the hormone that lets glucose be used to produce energy. It typically develops in children and adolescents — Lauren was seven years old when she was diagnosed.
Her sister Whitney, on the other hand, was a junior in high school when she learned she also had Type 1. She told High Post Hoops that after she came home from the hospital after her diagnosis, Lauren came home to surprise her.
“We just kind of sat there, like hugging and crying,” Whitney said. “She just knew what I was going to be going through. She just gets it.”
“I think me being able to be there for her when she was first diagnosed, I think that was really important, just to show her that she can still do whatever she wants to do,” Lauren said.
Type 1 diabetes can be very manageable, and both sisters take advantage of the latest medical technology to ensure it doesn’t affect their game. They wear continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, and both devices work in tandem to avoid any issues on the court.
“Having the new technology helps a ton, just making it so much more convenient,” Whitney said. She and the team’s trainer use an app on their phones to keep track of her blood sugar level.
Lauren felt the same way, saying the technology she uses “has definitely made life a whole lot easier for me, and for my trainers.”
Baylor put on its first Type 1 Awareness Game in January 2017. Not much has changed since, aside from moving the game to the fall — it’s a simple opportunity for diabetic fans to interact with someone succeeding at a high level while managing her condition. Type 1 fans will sit together during the games, then meet Lauren after.
And, this season, Whitney.
“It’s really special [sharing this year’s game with her],” Lauren said. “Whitney hasn’t been diabetic for long, but it still means a lot that they were willing to work it out to get [LCU] here for a game, and to make it the Type 1 game, so it’s gonna be a really special night.”
Lauren is coming up on four years of using her platform at Baylor to spread awareness of Type 1 diabetes, and Whitney, a freshman, hopes to follow in her footsteps.
In addition to wanting to start a Type 1 awareness game at LCU, in her first couple of weeks on campus, she participated in a health fair where she had the opportunity to talk about her diabetes.
“They had a diabetic brunch that I spoke at, just kind of explaining day-to-day operations of being a diabetic, pretty much,” Whitney said. “That was the very first time I actually kind of spoke out about it. So that was pretty cool. I definitely hope to do some more things like that around campus, as well as in the basketball world.”
The sisters have only faced off in a competitive game once — they were on different club teams within the same organization when Lauren was in high school and met in a tournament championship game. But with the “exhibition” tag attached to Wednesday’s game, the competition won’t be the important part this time.
“I think it’s just gonna be fun,” Lauren said. “Just because we have so many family and friends coming to that game, and everyone’s really excited. They got split shirts made that have the BU and the LCU colors on opposite sides and all that. Yeah, it’s just gonna be really fun and kind of our last time ever on the same court again.”
Whitney expressed a similar sentiment at playing her first two collegiate games against two of Texas’ best teams (LCU visited Texas for an exhibition on Monday night).
“My coach actually asked me earlier this week if I was nervous for any of it. And I told him, not at all,” Whitney said. “I’m really excited for it.”
When asked what they want people to know about being a diabetic athlete, the sisters’ answers were almost identical.
“It can’t stop you from doing whatever you want to do,” Lauren said. “As long as you stay on top of it and control it, then you’re going to be perfectly fine and you can do anything that you set your mind to.”
“It doesn’t stop you from doing anything,” Whitney said. “It’s completely manageable. And it’s just another thing you have to take care of. At the end of the day, you can still do whatever you want to do.”
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