Posted Online: Oct. 08, 2012, 6:49 pm

Diabetes can't keep Ridgewood's Wexell down

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Mike Bradley
Ridgewood senior volleyball player Brooklyn Wexell was diagnosed with diabetes in fifth grade. Wexell and the Spartans are hosting 'Digging for Diabetes' fundraiser tonight during their match against ROWVA in Cambridge.
For Cambridge High School senior and Ridgewood volleyball standout Brooklyn Wexell, every day on the court is the gift that keeps on giving.

Since being diagnosed as a diabetic during her fifth-grade year, Wexell has striven to both understand and combat her condition as well as increasing her determination to maintain a normal lifestyle.

"I knew I wasn't going to let it stop me,'' she said. "I still had to be me, to do my own thing.''

Wexell's teammates on the Ridgewood volleyball co-op have also strived to help her deal with the disease that affects countless people worldwide, reminding her to check her blood sugar and watching for signs her condition may be changing during a match or practice session.

"Being so young, I've been able to maintain very well; a few times, my sugar's gotten super high or low, but I've never been put back in the hospital,'' said Wexell. "My teammates are very supportive, which I appreciate a lot. They tell me to test my sugar, so that I can correct it if it's high, or have Coach (Lisa Miller) take me out if it's low, so that I can eat something and bring it back up.''

The senior libero's teammates -- which include her younger sister, sophomore outside hitter Paige Wexell -- are doing something else to give her a boost by hosting tonight's "Digging for Diabetes'' fundraising event at Cambridge during the Spartans' Lincoln Trail Conference match against ROWVA. Doors open at 4:15 p.m., with a freshman match slated for 4:45, followed by the junior varsity at 6 and the varsity thereafter.

During all three matches, there will be raffles, silent auctions, a 50-50 drawing and beads and T-shirts that can be bought, although the T-shirts have mostly sold out and will be in limited supply. Both teams will wear special royal-blue jerseys (the color of diabetes awareness), and all proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

"It's to let people know that even if you have it, it doesn't slow you down,'' said Miller. "We've got some younger students in our school that have it, and I hope Brooklyn can be a role model to them and give them hope, too. She just goes her fullest in every practice, every game. There's no excuses; she just goes. She is amazing. She just keeps fighting.''

A cheerleader as well as a multi-sport athlete, Wexell is equally set on being a proper role model for other student-athletes who may be in her position.

"I want to show them I'm a good role model, and I want them to take care of themselves," she said. "When it happened to me, it was very upsetting; I didn't understand why. But I'm a strong person, and I can take care of myself. I've just got to do my own thing."