Life may have changed for Buckeye Central senior Kendra Schultz at age 7, but it's never slowed her down.
Schultz was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes after her parents became concerned with her behavior of constantly drinking and urinating, along with the fact their young daughter had lost a considerable amount of weight in a short time.
"I feel like it's pushed me knowing that I have this and am still able to do sports," Schultz said. "Maybe people are scared not knowing what is going to happen to them, but I think it's pushed me further."
The diagnosis was a scary one for the Schultz family, but it was something they knew they could control with the right education.
"If you see a child losing weight, drinking a lot and peeing a lot, that is one of the signs," said Karen Schultz, Kendra's mother. "We have no one in our family that had it. My husband said it was like a ball bat hitting us in the face, but the way I looked at it too is this is controllable and you can take care of this."
Juvenile, or Type 1 Diabetes, brings with it plenty of ups and downs. The disease occurs when the body's immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Living an active, healthy lifestyle like Kendra does can be accomplished, but insulin must be taken and blood sugar levels must be checked often.
Kendra wears an insulin pump 24 hours a day, and during volleyball games she tucks the pump, connected to a 24-inch tube, into the side of her uniform -- since she typically doesn't land or dive on her side. Each year her parents have to receive permission from the Ohio High School Athletic Association to allow her to play with her insulin pump.
"It stays on during games and there have been a couple of times where in warmups or something it rips out," Kendra said. "It's constantly giving me insulin and I've had it for the last six years and had diabetes for the last 10, so I'm used to it."
Buckettes head coach Bill Bonham and his entire team keep a close eye on Kendra.
"There have been times during practice where I'll be acting weird or not focused during a game and Kilee (Kimmel) is right beside me when I'm setting, or Emily (Weithman) and they'll be like, 'You're acting weird,' " Schultz said. "Kilee came into check on me in the locker room one time when I was low and she noticed I looked so pale. I had thought about laying down, and if I had I don't know what would have happened, but then I realized, 'OK. I need to eat something.'
"Everybody understands and they know. If I'm on the court or something, my mom is at the scorer's table and she has glucose tablets for me and they'll toss them out on the floor if I need them, or during a timeout I'll be sitting there eating."
Bonham trusts Kendra to eat and take the necessary precautions during practice if her blood sugar is low. Missing a play or a part of practice is something Kendra doesn't want to do. As soon as she feels better, she heads back to practice or back into the game.
"It was scary when she was a kid," Bonham said. "I've known her since she was born. Her family and my family go way back and when we found out she was first diagnosed it was a scary thing. Watching her grow up and then becoming her coach turned it up a notch because now I'm responsible for her.
"My grandmother was a diabetic, but I never had to worry about anybody younger than I was, so for me that was a scary thing. Running with the Fire Department in Bloomville, her father, Kenny, was our chief and we've seen some diabetic emergencies so we know what can happen to people."
Kendra has played a huge role in Buckeye Central's 25-2 journey to the state tournament this season. After spending the past two years as a right side hitter, Bonham made the decision to move her to the middle. Kendra accepted the challenge, and over the course of the season has come into her own at her new position.
"Obviously she's really stepped it up this second half of the year," Bonham said. "I think the first half of the year showed she was trying to get back into the flow of things. It took time to get her foot work back, steps back. She's had some really great kills for us here in the last couple weeks."
Friday's trip to the Nutter Center at Wright State University to play in the state Final Four is especially exciting for Kendra. Eight years ago she met some of her closest friends at Camp Hamwai, a diabetic camp located at Camp Mohaven in Danville. Her friends, who are also diabetic, are planning to make the trip to Dayton to watch her play for the first time.
"I've became really close to them and I don't know how my life would be if I didn't have them in it," she said.
Kendra is in training to become a counselor at Camp Hamwai's week-long summer camp. Because of her experience with diabetes, she plans on being a nurse. She also has a message for other children affected by diabetes when it comes to pursuing their dreams.
"Don't be scared," she said. "Just go out there and you have to do it. If that's what you love, don't let diabetes get in your way."