Diabetic soccer player doesn’t let disease slow her down

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 1:02 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Nearly ten years ago, Ashley Vensel was rushed to the hospital where she found out she had Type 1 Diabetes.

The disease did not stop her from becoming a star on Wylie high school’s soccer team, and eventually becoming a key player for UMHB.

If you watch Ashley play for the Cru, you would have no idea she is diabetic, but for the past decade her struggles with diabetes have been just as much mental as they are physical.

At just 10 years old, Ashley was on her way to a soccer tournament when she had to stop for numerous bathroom breaks and couldn’t stay hydrated.

For weeks before the trip her family had noticed she was losing weight and seemed to always be tired. These symptoms were oddly similar to those of her diabetic grandmother, so Ashley’s family decided to get her checked out.

Ashley tells me, “They tested my blood sugar, which was about 700. The normal range is 80-100, so, they immediately took me to the hospital.”

Ashley remembers being confused and discouraged. How could a healthy, active, 10-year-old girl have such a serious disease?

“Vivid memories of me, sitting in the hospital, having no idea what was going on. I felt like my purpose and my identity had changed. I was now ‘girl with diabetes’.”

The hardest part for Ashley was the mental toll. She feels like there is a stigma around diabetes, and she worried her friends and classmates would think she was unhealthy - even though that’s not necessarily the case with Type 1 diabetes.

“It’s not because you’re overweight, it’s not because you drank this, it is not because you have a poor diet. It is really just because you have an autoimmune disease.”

As taboo as diabetes can be, Ashley was relieved to see that one of her favorite celebrities, Nick Jonas, also had diabetes, and he wasn’t letting it bring him down.

“I remember as a kid just looking at him and thinking, ‘he is superstar. If he can be a superstar with diabetes, then I can certainly do whatever I want’.”

It hasn’t been easy for Ashley, who wears a device that constantly checks her blood sugar level and often has to fight off nasty side effects that come with combining exercise and diabetes.

“Adrenaline makes your blood sugar rise. So, I am dealing with the symptoms of high blood sugar, which include being really thirsty, being really tired, and not being able to focus.”

Ashley fought her battle in private for a long time, but she recently decided to start publicizing it.

She uses social media to raise awareness and to inspire other young athletes that are facing their own adversity.

Ashley is taking it a step further, she is studying to become a nurse so she can comfort and encourage other children that are facing tough battles, the same way her nurses helped her beat the odds.

Copyright 2021 KWTX. All rights reserved.