Fortemps overcomes adversity to captain Wayne Hills by Kevin Czerwinski special to The Record
Amanda Fortemps is not one to let the fact that she has Type 1 diabetes hold her back.
The Wayne Hills senior admits, though, that as the spring rolled into the summer and preparations were being made for the current field hockey season, there was some cause for concern. While the 16-year-old – Fortemps won’t be 17 until next month – is a team captain and considers herself a leader, as does Patriots coach Jacqui Giammetti, she was worried about what some of her teammates would think.
The issue causing Fortemps, who was diagnosed with diabetes as a 12-year-old, the most concern surrounded her insulin pump. She committed to wearing it fulltime before this season and that meant finding a way to having it with her on the field without it being noticeable or it getting damaged.
Fortemps solved the problem, though, by putting her pump in a fanny pack under her jersey. It can’t be seen and no one, not opposing players, coaches or officials, has made an issue of it through the pre-season and first week of the regular season. Still, it weighed on Fortemps in a way she didn’t anticipate.
“I never use diabetes as an excuse,” Fortemps said. “I had the fear, though, that being a captain this year, I wondered whether the freshmen or the girls I already knew would think I couldn’t be a captain because I have a disability. In reality, I don’t have a disability, though.
“Everyone was accepting about it. My teammates never stare or anything like that so it’s worked out really well this year. It’s amazing that I can keep it [the pump] on the field and I don’t have to switch back to taking injections. I thought it would fall off or break and that was one of the scarier things but everything is going smoothly.”
There had been times before Fortemps, who plays left midfield, switched to using the pump that her blood-sugar level dropped too fast and she didn’t feel well. While she never passed out, several factors, including heat, can cause problems. It sometimes makes practicing in the summer months difficult.
Giammetti, however, is understanding and never questions Fortemps when she is feeling a bit off. Fortemps appreciates the support and the fact that her coach never pressures her to stay on or get back onto the field.
“She is a great kid and a great athlete and if you didn’t know she had an issue you could never tell because she doesn’t complain,” Giammetti said. “She deals with it in a very mature way. It pushes her to be better and she’s a great leader.”
Being diabetic also causes the occasional problem because Fortemps “loves food”. She continues to monitor what she eats and because she is so active, she can occasionally get away with eating something she shouldn’t.
“I love food in general and having such a love for food and diabetes is a weird combination,” Fortemps said. “I like the classic desserts like every other diabetic. But I like to stay near the healthy side. Because I am an athlete, I want to stay on a good diet where I can feel good and still have energy.
“I do occasionally have sweets, that’s just how I am. It doesn’t affect me that much as long as I don’t have excessive amounts. I can have a little ice cream before I go to bed because I’m going to work it off the next day.”
Fortemps isn’t sure where she will be going to college, what she will study or whether she will play field hockey when she gets there. She said because she thinks about nutrition a great deal becoming a dietician and working in a hospital seems like a logical career path.
Nothing, however, is etched in stone. She still has this year to get through and continues to work on being a role model, particularly for those who may have similar physical challenges.
“Don’t use diabetes as an excuse,” she said. “Try whatever it is you want to do. Having that time thinking I wasn’t going to be able to be a role model to the underclassmen because of diabetes and then realizing I could makes me feel that anyone can do anything with diabetes if they just go and try.”