By Jen Toland, Telegram & Gazzette
Worcester, Mass. - Occasionally, Mitch
Renshaw will feel a little weak and have to excuse
himself from practice. He'll duck over to the bench, where he keeps
a packet of ground glucose pills handy. Within about five minutes
of taking them, though, he's back on the Kneller Athletic Center
basketball court and going hard again.
Renshaw, Clark's starting sophomore center, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11. His body does not produce insulin, so he must use an insulin pump to administer it. He has to monitor his blood sugar level, which sometimes gets low during practice.
"But having diabetes has never held me back," said Renshaw, a Rutland resident who played high school ball at Wachusett Regional. "I've never had any limitations as far as athletics or running around or doing anything physical. As long as you keep it under control, it really doesn't present much of a difficulty."
The disease has never really been an issue for Renshaw, so he has never made it an issue.
During his visit to Clark during his senior year of high school, Cougars coach Paul Phillips brought Renshaw and his mom to the Clark cafeteria. When they sat down for lunch, Renshaw pulled out a small electronic device and started pressing buttons. Phillips thought he was texting. He was actually checking his glucose level, which he has to do at every meal.
"I didnt know he was diabetic," Phillips said, "and he had no reason to tell me. He lives a normal life. He's never had to sit out a game or miss a practice."
Through 12 games this season, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound center is averaging nine points - third-best on the team - and 5.3 rebounds.
Hes a nice complement to sophomore Brian Vayda in Clark's frontcourt, and Phillips said he has been a major reason for the Cougars' 8-4 start.
Renshaw averaged 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 14 games off the bench as a freshman. He felt like he has something to prove this season, so he worked his tail off over the summer and ended up winning the starting job.
"I worked hard to get stronger," Renshaw said. "I didn't get many minutes as a freshman because I didn't play that well. This year, I came in with a different attitude and a different confidence because I worked so hard. I'm starting now, and that is a good feeling, and I do think I'm playing better."
Renshaw opened the season with an 18-point, 12-rebound effort against Fitchburg State. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in Clark's last game against Becker. Phillips said Renshaw is one of Clark's most athletic players, and he pushes him. His message to Renshaw during yesterday's practice is that he's got to rebound more.
"But he's improved immensely," Phillips said, "and he has a lot to do with where we are right now."
The 8-4 start is Clark's best since Phillips returned four years ago.
The Cougars open NEWMAC play tonight against Coast Guard. They host WPI Jan. 19 in the first of two games against the six-time defending conference champion.
When Renshaw was first diagnosed with diabetes, he was scared - not so much of the disease, but of people finding out he had it.
"I didn't want people seeing me take an insulin shot before dinner or seeing I had an insulin pump on," Renshaw said. "My biggest concern when I was younger was that I didn't want to stick out in a negative way.
"But you realize if you just come out and say it, 'I'm a diabetic,' and you talk about it - I like to talk about it, and I like to help people understand it. Friends of mine have had siblings diagnosed with diabetes and they say, 'Can you help? They're discouraged.' My advice is don't be discouraged. Don't let something like diabetes ruin what you want to do."