Area athlete battles disease to suit up Friday nights

Local Sports

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Dalton Spivey has every reason not to play football.

The Savannah Country Day School football player found out he had Type 1 diabetes at a young age and it has made life more difficult on and off the field.

“When my blood sugar goes low, I could drop dead,” Spivey explained. “I could have a seizure and drop dead. It’s serious.”

The disease forced an 8-year-old Spivey to grow up fast. At the same time, he learned how to monitor his health by-the-minute, so eventually he could wear a Hornets jersey on Friday nights.

“My mom told me that you can do everything everyone else can,” Spivey said. “I’ve taken that to heart and tried to live that for her, my family and myself to prove to people that I can.”

He can — and continues to impress the new coaching staff. Despite days where he can’t practice due to low blood sugar, Spivey has cracked the starting lineup as a sophomore linebacker.

“I have a lot of pride for him because he’s doing something a lot of people wouldn’t attempt to do,” head coach Jim Collis said. “When I look at the big picture here, we have a kid that doesn’t have to be here who loves the game and is passionate about it and is doing everything he can to be a part of it.”

Spivey’s journey to the field doesn’t come without extra hurdles. Before practice, trainers check his blood sugar through a system on his cell phone. If he is cleared to practice, the monitoring continues throughout drills. A sudden dip will force him to leave the field and drink Gatorade or apple juice until he’s stable.

“They put stuff that would control my life in my hands,” Spivey added. “I had to deal with that. I went from being a carefree 8-year-old to balancing something in my hands, life or death.”

His father, a local doctor, keeps track of his levels during games and is by his son’s side when the Hornets defense gets off the field. It’s a lengthy, sometimes frustrating process, but Spivey understands it saves his life and lets him focus on the game come kickoff.

It’s a dedicated team, both football and medical, that keeps Spivey stable on Friday nights. Spivey said because of them, he’s able to put the disease out of his mind once the whistle blows.

Football is an escape. In this case, it’s a therapeutic way for Spivey to conjure up the “carefree 8-year-old” that still exists in him and live out the advice handed down by his mother.

“I just love football. I love everything about it,” he said. “A lot of people complain about being here practicing. I love every aspect of it. I love the thinking part, getting down in the dirt and working.”

Last Friday night, the Hornets came away with a thrilling last-second win over Johnson County.

Spivey was on the field for nearly every defensive play.

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