Cape Coral athlete credits coach helping him manage diabetes

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Photo by WINK News.

When we think about disease, we may start to have thoughts about limitations. For athletes, disease can be viewed as something that will certainly create problems. But for one athlete in Southwest Florida, disease never took him away from his ultimate goal — play ball.

Pitcher Tyler Shuck is a starter for FGCU baseball. Shuck also has type 1 diabetes. Before his diagnosis, Shuck’s dreams of playing professional baseball began as a young boy watching games at FGCU’s Swanson Stadium.

“The first college game I ever attended was Florida Gulf Coast versus the Gators,” Shuck said. “I think I was 8 years old.”

Shuck grew up in Cape Coral, where he began working toward his goal of taking the field for the Eagles. But his body started working against him.

“I just turned 13,” Shuck said. “I dropped 20 pounds in a week, feeling thirsty all the time.”

After being rushed to the hospital, Shuck learned he had developed type 1 diabetes.

“It’s a very serious disease,” Shuck said.

Shuck realized diabetes would be an obstacle, but it wouldn’t be an end to his baseball journey.

“Kids with conditions such as mine, they shouldn’t let these things control who they are,” Shuck said. “And don’t let anything hold them back.”

Photo by WINK News.

Shuck pitches for the Eagles, performing his craft, while managing his health. He is able to reflect on in-game moments when he has overcome his diabetes.

“The win against FIU was a big one for me, a pretty proud moment,” Shuck said.

Shuck said athletic accomplishments like his are made possible by the insulin pod he wears on the field and someone on the sideline who knows his struggle.

Photo by WINK News.

“Our assistant coach, coach [Brandon] Romans, he actually had the exact same monitor as me,” Shuck said. “He was kind of the one that got me hooked on the actual pump that I have right now. Because I used to be on shots, and shots was so much harder.”

Shuck and Romans share the same disease, but, more importantly, the same positive attitude about a limitless life with diabetes.

“Once I got here, that’s the first thing I was kind of drawn to, since I’m a type 1 diabetic,” Romans said. “Helping him out and he helps me out too.”

Head coach Dave Tollett sees the advantage Roman’s bond with Shuck has for Shuck’s continued performance for the Eagles on the mound.

“Those two have really gotten to become close,” Tollett said. “Last year, Tyler was just so up and down because of his sugar. He’d have good days, and he’d have bad days. So Brandon talked to him … and he’s a totally different player.”

Romans doesn’t see a disadvantage for Shuck or himself when it comes to the impact athletes with diabetes can have in professional sports and in general.

“There’s a number of athletes that have type 1 diabetes, people in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball,” Romans said. “It’s not something to hold you back.”

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