Mark Woolley was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 12. His parents, Steve and Tracy, had already been exposed to the symptoms through their middle son, Matt, who was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at birth.
At the time of diagnosis, hockey had already become a significant part of Mark’s life, giving the 2001-born defenceman a strong fear that the athletic life he had become accustomed to, would be taken away.
It didn’t take long, however, for Mark to learn that if he could manage diabetes properly, and take care of his health, it wouldn’t be a factor and he could still play the game that he loves.
Learning to live with diabetes didn’t come without its trials, though.
“Not too many people know the intensity behind Type 1 diabetes and the effect it can have on your life,” the St. Thomas, Ontario native explained. “My older brother has Type 1 Diabetes as well, and about three years ago when I was 15 or 16-years-old, he had a little bit of a scare in the middle of the night and went into diabetic coma and we ended up having to call the ambulance and go to the hospital in order to bring his blood sugar up. That was a wake up call for me.”
Fast forward to January 2019, Mark had just been traded to Owen Sound from the Guelph Storm and was faced with adjusting to a new environment. Two weeks following the trade, Mark went back home for his dad’s 50th birthday and if it wasn’t for being in the right place at the right time, the then 17-year-old came very close to losing his life.
“That was probably one of the scariest moments of my life, and was one of the reasons why I wanted to spread awareness around Type 1 Diabetes.”
Now, as a defenceman for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Owen Sound Attack, Mark has the goal to not only raise awareness around diabetes, but to send kids to Diabetes Canada D-Camps, hoping to give them the same opportunity to learn how to live their lives with diabetes, while still living the life that they love.
“In reality, it’s all about how you manage it and that’s one of the things I want to share with people,” Mark said of Woolley’s Warriors. “It’s how I manage Type 1 Diabetes in every day life while being an elite athlete.”