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2/13/2013 2:16:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Photo submitted by Jeff Paton
Brock Steele throws his opponent over his back in a dual against Chelan. Steele has been fighting with Type 1 diabetes for over a year now. He has been able to manage his diabetes during the wrestling season.
Diabetes does not hold back Steele
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

In the fall of 2011, Cashmere High School's Brock Steele was in his sophomore year, running cross country. He had some success the previous year as a wrestler and wanted to continue to condition himself for the upcoming wrestling season.

Toward the end of September 2011, Steele came down with a cold and started missing school. When the cold wouldn't go away and he started feeling sharp stomach pains, his mother decided to take him to the hospital.

"I thought my appendix had burst, but when they took my blood test, it came back and my blood sugar was off the charts," Steele said. "I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and rushed to Seattle Children's Hospital where I stayed for a week."

Steele knew his life was forever changed, and that being an athlete with diabetes would make training harder. After his diagnosis, Steele lost 20 pounds and had to recreate his eating habits and lifestyle.

Last year was a challenge for Steele and the Cashmere Head Wrestling Coach, Aaron Bessonette.

"I haven't been around diabetes other than coaching. I carry sugar in my bag, I have insulin if needed, and I will give him a squirt of frosting every now and then or ask if he needs a cookie," Bessonette said with a laugh. "On away tournaments, I have to wake up with him at three in the morning to check his blood sugar. It's a lifestyle he has had to adopt. There isn't much extra work for me, I just need to be aware."

Steele said, during sports, he wakes up every morning around three to check his blood sugar since it tends to drop four to six hours after intense exercise. One of the biggest challenges with wrestling and diabetes is finding that sweet spot right before Steele wrestles. Before a match, Steele tries to get his blood sugar level at a perfect spot. He said if he is too high or too low he doesn't have any energy during the match.

"Conditioning is a huge part of wrestling. It's so grueling. For six minutes, you have to give it 100 percent. Kids will lose matches because they are lacking in conditioning," Bessonette said. "Brock is one of our hardest workers and best conditioned wrestlers, so when we see him out there with a lack of energy, we know it's not because he isn't conditioned but because something is wrong."

Now that Steele is getting a grasp on living with diabetes and has almost two seasons of wrestling with diabetes under his belt, he is setting big goals. Bessonette said a few years ago, Steele was an average wrestler, but through his hard work and dedication, he has found success and earned the respect from all his opponents. Before heading into the Regional Tournament, Steele's record for this year was 27-10. Most of the losses have been to the same handful of wrestlers.

This past season Steele, 152 pound weight class wrestler, has beaten other wrestlers who placed in state last year and he pinned last year's third place state wrestler. As he continues with the season, he hopes to place in state this year and finish in the top three of the state tournament next year.

Even though diabetes can hinder Steele's performance, he doesn't let it. Steele said diabetes is just another step he has to take care to be at his best when he wrestles.

"Anytime a kid has to be accountable and is held accountable, it's a good thing. He is accountable to himself and to his diabetes because if he wasn't, we would have major issues," Bessonette said. "He has had to grow up and take on some responsibilities that a lot of adults don't have to worry about. That makes it easier to translate over to discipline in school and life."

On Feb. 1-2, Steele competed in the district meet where he placed third in his weight class, earning a spot at the regional tournament. Steele lost in the semifinal round to Carter Bushman from Quincy but then bounced back and dominated his opponent in the consolation bracket.

Last weekend, Steele competed in the regional tournament where he placed fourth to earn a spot to the state tournament. Steele will be competing in the state tournament this weekend in Tacoma.

"Brock is a very genuine young man and a good leader for our wrestling team," Bessonette said. "He is a good teammate and he is respectful to everyone. If anyone deserves it, it would be him. As coaches, we are excited to see what he can do next year as a senior."

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or

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