Back in early July, the day after the Seattle Sounders lost at home to the Portland Timbers, Jordan Morris was 20 minutes east of Seattle at a park in Preston. While Sounders fans and players alike were understandably stewing in frustration over the result, Morris was preparing for a soccer camp with the Jordan Morris Foundation.
“After a tough loss, like yesterday, being able to come out and work with kids and do something that I’m really passionate about is, um, it’s really exciting,” Morris said, explaining how being able to help and work with kids dealing with diabetes like him has helped him as well.
Morris was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic at 9 years old when his mother, a nurse, recognized his symptoms as being more than just a growing boy. He was fortunate to have two parents who were medical professionals, providing a support network that enabled him to reach the heights of professional sports that he’s already achieved. A star player for the Sounders with nearly 50 caps with the US Men’s National Team and a shot at a trip to the Men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year, Morris is in rarified air for any athlete, let alone one with Type 1 Diabetes. For him, though, that childhood diagnosis has been a challenge but not necessarily a hindrance.
“I say this a lot, you know: of course I’d rather not have Type 1, but I think it taught me a lot of things at a younger age then helped me get to the point that I’m at now.”
Nearly 20 years of watching his blood sugar, managing his diet and learning to navigate the mental and emotional challenges that come with Type 1 — and the impact those challenges have in turn on his blood sugar — have helped Morris to navigate the various challenges that have come with his climb into and through the world of football.
For a game like that Portland one, the challenge for Morris is compounded. He has to prepare for the game like the rest of his teammates, while also managing his blood sugar. Like the rest of his teammates, he also has to manage his emotions and ride the current of adrenaline that comes with the occasion, which can make the task of managing his blood sugar even harder.
As Morris describes it, “I think the adrenaline is the most difficult part. You go into these big games and all of a sudden your blood-sugar starts spiking up for no reason. And it can be a little frustrating.”
Fortunately, medical technology has advanced from what it was even a decade ago to make life easier for elite athletes like Morris and non-elite athletes alike who live with Type 1. Where in the past Morris would have had to check his blood sugar by pricking his finger numerous times throughout the day, Morris now uses a Dexcom device — Dexcom are the presenting partner for Morris’s soccer camps — that monitors his glucose levels and alerts him when there’s a situation that needs to be addressed.
“Wearing the Dexcom, being able to see that spike coming and as it starts to go up, you can correct for it. It’s been super helpful because before, you know, you’re kind of in the dark a little bit, but with the Dexcom and the new technologies around these days, we’re really able to see exactly where your [glucose levels are] going.”
Now, Morris is in a position to give back.
“When I was growing up, I had those athletes that I looked up to and said, “I want to get there. I want to do what they’re doing and diabetes didn’t stop them. So, you know, I’m not gonna let it stop me, but I was never able to talk to them or hear their story. And so the basis for starting this foundation was really just outreach to kids. And hopefully give them the hope that they can accomplish anything that they want to accomplish, even with Type 1.”