Kicking diabetes one day at a time

When Federal Way High School junior Tommy Osborn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 years old, he really didn’t know what the future held for him. Osborn just knew he wanted to keep playing soccer.

Federal Way soccer player Tommy Osborn (1)

When Federal Way High School junior Tommy Osborn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 years old, he really didn’t know what the future held for him. Osborn just knew he wanted to keep playing soccer.

“It was actually after one of my soccer games,” said Osborn, who had two goals as a midfielder for the Eagle boys soccer team this season. “I wasn’t playing very well and drinking a lot of water. I didn’t have any energy.”

Osborn’s mother, Nancy, is a nurse and had seen the symptoms of juvenile diabetes and made her son get tested for the condition.

“I was scared a little bit the day I got diagnosed,” Osborn said. “But they say that playing sports when you have diabetes is a good thing. Exercise helps your blood sugar go down.”

Living with diabetes isn’t that abnormal of an occurrence in today’s society. Some 21 million Americans have diabetes, meaning their bodies cannot properly turn blood sugar into energy. Either they don’t produce enough insulin or don’t use it correctly. With the type 1 form, the body’s immune system attacks insulin-producing pancreatic cells, so that patients require insulin injections to survive.

Osborn is also one of three members of the Federal Way High School soccer team to have type 1 diabetes. Eagle head coach Jason Baumgardt and sophomore Conor Hanson are also diabetics.

More than one million Americans have juvenile (type 1) diabetes; a disease which strikes children suddenly, makes them insulin dependent for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. Someone is diagnosed with juvenile diabetes every hour.

In juvenile diabetes, a person’s pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone necessary to sustain life. Although the causes are not entirely known, scientists believe the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is not caused by obesity or by eating excessive sugar, which are two common myths about juvenile diabetes. Each year approximately 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, over 13,000 of whom are children.

“You just have to watch what you eat,” Osborn said. “I have to prick my finger three to five times on a normal day to check my blood sugar. On a game day, I check it probably six to eight times. I have to make sure I have it under control before my game.”

Today, Osborn uses an insulin pump, a computerized cell phone-size device that carries enough insulin through a thin tube into his abdomen to provide him with a continuous supply of insulin for several days. Osborn also pricks his finger several times a day to test his blood sugar levels and can push a button on the pump to increase his insulin level if necessary.

Osborn, along with Hanson and fellow Federal Way teammate Kevin Olsen, will take their cause to the streets on May 18. The three will be among thousands of runners at the annual Nordstrom Beat the Bridge walk/run. The 26th annual event benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and starts at Husky Stadium in Seattle at 8 a.m.

The Beat the Bridge event raised $1.26 million last year and has raised over $10 million for diabetes research over the last 25 years. To donate, visit

“These kids work really hard to play and stay active in sports,” said Nancy Osborn. “And they have to really watch their blood sugars closely. Managing all of this is really important.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

Sports card fanatic finds a home at FW Farmers Market

Richard Davis, 87, sells sports cards from his 100,000 card collection at the farmers market each week.

Fall sports postponed for FWPS middle, high schools

The NPSL recently moved all Season 1 sports into Season 3 beginning in March.

Pictured: A Mercer Island High School swimmer competes in fall 2019. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently announced the girls swim and dive season will be moved to “Season 3,” which begins March 1. File photo
WIAA gives schools option to delay start of prep sports until December

An updated plan moves girls swimming to Season 3 and makes fall cross country an alternate season.

The Todd Beamer Titans football team in Federal Way during a 2019 summer practice. File photo
WIAA modifies prep sports calendar; football moved to spring

Washington’s high school athletics governing body announced its revised plans for the… Continue reading

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

Emerald Downs changes opening day to June 24

Live racing to return at Auburn track but without fans

Emerald Downs announces revised 2020 stakes schedule

Racing starts June 22; first featured race Aug. 2

Emerald Downs to open for horse racing June 22

No fans initially at Auburn track; fans can wager from home

FILE PHOTO, Brian Liesse, T-Birds
T-Birds issue ticket refunds, exchanges for cancelled games in Kent

17,000 tickets sold for three March contests at ShoWare Center

Decatur senior to bowl at collegiate level

Team captain and league MVP Ruth Magana signed her National Letter of Intent at home last week.

T-Birds select 13 players in Bantam Draft

Seattle trades goalie Roddy Ross to Regina for three draft picks

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.