Georgia just does it and always finds a way

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Georgia McCarron speaks with the quiet authority of someone who is a natural leader.

The 1.83cm athlete and university student was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after contracting chicken pox just before her second birthday. Now 22, Georgia and her Northside Wizards women’s basketball team have just won the South Brisbane League Grand Final, and this captain of her team is proud of it.

“Mum, dad and my two brothers played basketball. I’ve always looked up to them so that was the sport I wanted to play too,” she said.

“This was my second year competing with the Northside Wizards. We fell short by a few points in the Grand Final last year. This fueled my motivation to finish with the gold this season. My team worked extremely hard, facing a lot of adversity and injuries, so I was very grateful to finish on such a positive result and remain in good health myself.”

Georgia is a forward with the Wizards, and her dad, Don, is the coach. One of her brothers, Mitchell, plays professional basketball for Melbourne United and Curtis plays socially in the Northside Wizards senior men’s competition.

Her schedule is disciplined: Monday night is a club game, Tuesday and Thursday nights are training, Saturday or Sunday is a competition round game, and Georgia goes to the gym or practises shooting on her rest days.

She works as a team leader at Grill’d burger chain, and studies full time for her secondary school teaching degree. She hopes to teach Health/Physical Education and Science.

Application is one of Georgia’s strong points.

“Georgia is a great girl, a lovely person,” Northside Wizards’ spokesperson, Michael Pitman, said. “She’s not just an outstanding player in her own right, she coaches juniors and always has time for younger players.

“I admire her and the whole McCarron family.”

Georgia said her determination to play basketball to the best of her ability has been helped by Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM).

“I got Dexcom when I was 20 years old,” Georgia said. It was soon after the government announced it would subsidise CGM for Australians under 21.

“It’s phenomenal, especially for playing sport.

“I always know what level I am and how I’m trending. It gives me peace of mind on the court.”

Georgia said her manager keeps an eye on her phone to monitor her blood glucose levels (BGLs) while she’s playing, and she looks at the information as soon as she’s off the court.

She aims to inject her insulin three hours before a game, and routinely has a ham and salad sandwich and a banana before playing to ward off hypoglycaemia (dangerously low BGLs). She likes to be around 8mmol/L before she plays a game.

“When I’m tired, especially if my legs are tired, I’ll trend downwards. I know when I’m going too low. I feel shaky, have a slight vision loss, and feel lethargic.”

Georgia is grateful her mum and dad has picked up the cost of her CGM, about $5,000 or so a year, since she turned 21 when the government subsidy stopped.

“I know it’s a lot of money and I’ll take over the cost when I graduate from Uni,” Georgia said. “The difference it makes means it’s not negotiable. I want to live an active lifestyle and get all the health benefits that brings. CGM makes it easier to do that.”

Georgia doesn’t remember meeting other basketball players with type 1 despite competing for 15 years or so. Her opponents sometimes ask about the BGL sensor she has tapped to her arm during games and she explains about her diabetes and that it reads her BGLs and sends the info to her phone.

“I’m always upfront about my diabetes. I’ve always told my managers, team mates and whoever is coaching me. I think because of me being open about it, I’ve had a lot of support.”

Georgia says she wants young players to develop the same passion she has for basketball, and enjoys being a coach and mentor.

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to eat anything before I go to the gym, or that I could just wake up and work out like everyone else, but usually I just do what has to be done,” Georgia said.

“Diabetes doesn’t have to be something that stops you doing anything you want to do. Sometimes it’s so much harder to achieve daily goals, but accomplishing them knowing that you have battled through the ups and downs of diabetes every minute of the day is such a rewarding feeling.

“I’ll always find a way.”

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