Taylor Bevis’ ability to chug a 12-ounce red Gatorade in under 20 seconds might be viewed as an impressive feat – but it’s not a good sign.
Bevis, a senior volleyball player at Bishop Carroll, has Type 1 diabetes. She wears a pack with an insulin pump around her waist and keeps a stash of Gatorades and granola bars in case she starts feeling weak.
Diabetes hasn’t held her back from becoming one of the Wichita-area’s most powerful hitters and six-position player.
But her teammates can tell, sometimes even before Bevis, when she needs a break. She gets shaky, and her already-pale skin turns a rather ghostly shade.
“She handles it well, she takes care of herself,” Carroll coach Rita Mernagh said. “But the neatest thing is the kids around her, the other players, her friends, they all look out for her.”
Bevis, a two-time All-City League selection, was diagnosed with diabetes the summer before her eighth-grade year after she’d lost weight and experienced extreme fatigue. She learned quickly about what to eat and what to avoid, as well as discovering how her body reacts when her blood sugars are low.
Exercise can wear her down, so she keeps her sugars a little higher when she plays. She wears the pump so she can adjust her insulin.
“If you’re a Type 1 diabetic, it’s a situation where the pancreas doesn’t function at all,” said Tonya Bevis, her mother. “She’s 24/7 you have to manage it. When she’s putting something in her mouth, a food, a drink, whatever it might be, the normal steps would be to check your blood sugar.”
Bevis is careful about what she eats — even a few potato chips can affect her. She counts carbs and adjusts her pump.
There have been many times when her parents checked her levels in the middle of the night. If she needed to up her sugars, her parents will give her apple juice, sometimes without even waking her.
Outside of the pump that Bevis wears during matches, her battle with diabetes isn’t evident to most when she’s playing volleyball.
Bevis, who has made an oral commitment to play at Central Oklahoma, is known for her power at the net, which she showcased as a freshman.
“Her power, it’s scary,” said Kelsey Schippers, an All-City libero and one of Bevis’ close friends.
“She can take the ball anywhere,” Mernagh said. “She’s just strong. I think it’s her power, but she’s able to … see openings and see weaknesses in their defense.”
Bevis hopes to help Carroll win a City League title. The Eagles have depth and return Schippers, senior setter-hitter Molly Dugan, hitter Lyndsey Becker and setter Kristen Fimple. Senior hitter Brittany Finney will be a factor, too.
Bevis’ strength as a hitter tends to overshadow what she can do while serving and passing. As a passer, she consistently has one of the team’s highest averages, is one of the team’s best diggers and reads other hitters well.
“As an outside (hitter), you’re typically that person they pull back in the serve-receive position,” Bevis said. “When that started happening more and more for me, ‘OK, I need to focus on passing.’
“… Hitting came really easy. For passing, I had to work at it.”
Bevis has become so strong as a passer that if she struggles, they chalk it up to her diabetes.
Schippers often can tell when Bevis needs a break or a snack or a Gatorade.
“She’s been with me since I got diagnosed,” Bevis said. “Most of the time I feel it after she said something. Most of the time I’m too focused on doing something when she notices it — ‘You shanked like four balls, is your blood sugar OK?’ ”
While Bevis doesn’t weaken during games often, she’s always prepared.
Especially after the summer of 2013, when she had a scare while with her friend Rachel Friedrichs, an Andale volleyball player who had recently had surgery on her anterior cruciate ligament.
“We were hanging out, and my blood sugar dropped,” Bevis said. “I didn’t notice because I was laying on the couch.… I thought I was taking a nap, but I passed out.”
Friedrichs was able to help.
“Luckily we had went through everything with Rachel,” Tonya Bevis said. “Her and her dad did a great job of locating the emergency kit in her purse and giving (Taylor) the injection. It was the scariest time we had.
“… There’s bumps in the road, it’s not easy. As long as you try to plan well and work on the preventative part, it’s something that’s manageable.”
And with Bevis, often the only sign that she is a diabetic is the black pump around her waist.