CHESANING, MI – There is one day Nick Fowler will never forget, just as there is one game he will never remember.
Fowler, a senior at Chesaning, has become an offensive force for the 1-1 Indians to start the 2020 season, eclipsing the 100-yard rushing plateau in each of his first two games.
“He’s a bulldog,” Chesaning coach John Mimranek said. “He goes right at people and delivers the contact instead of maybe looking for an opening. He’s a very physical runner.”
His ability to deliver punishment has improved since his sophomore season, when he was a 5-foot-10, 170-pound tailback. He has put on 40 pounds since then, thanks to maturity, work, nutrition and a little box he keeps on his belt.
Fowler is a diabetic, and he began using an insulin pump before his junior year of high school.
“It changes so much because it monitors your blood sugar for you … there are less needles, fewer spikes and things like that,” Fowler said. “It’s still not a 100-percent thing, but it really helps me control it.”
Mimranek has noticed the difference.
“I don’t know if everything has to do with getting the pump,” Mimranek said. “But since then, he’s gotten bigger. He’s gotten stronger. He’s really built up his body. He just looks healthier.”
Fowler was diagnosed with diabetes on Aug. 5, 2015 before he entered the seventh grade.
“It was one of the worst days of my life … that’s why I remember it and I’ll always remember it,” Fowler said. “It was the summer, and I had lost over 15 pounds. I was going to the bathroom a lot, drinking a lot. My mom (Jodi) is in the medical field, so she said we have to get it checked out.”
Jodi Fowler, a respiratory therapist at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, took her son for his diagnosis and then to the University of Michigan hospital for help.
“I hated needles and I hated shots … I guess that’s funny now,” Fowler said. “But I gave myself my first shot at the hospital. Now I can do it no problem. I don’t necessarily like it, but it’s part of my life.”
Fowler does not wear the pump during football practice or games because of the contact. He plans to play basketball and baseball and will wear the pump during baseball games.
Playing without a pump creates plenty of challenges.
“When you play football, your body creates a ton of adrenaline,” Fowler said. “That really messes with your blood sugar. I don’t mind the highs as much as the lows. I always have some Gatorade ready to keep my blood sugar good.”
Fowler knows what happens when his blood sugar drops too far. In his first varsity football game, Chesaning traveled to Benzie Central and lost, 22-21, to start the 2018 season.
“I played, but I don’t remember it,” Fowler said. “My blood sugar dropped. I was out there playing, and one of my teammates noticed I looked a little funny. When I got to the bench, they gave me some Gatorade.
“It was like I just woke up. I didn’t know where I was or what was happening. I had blacked out and didn’t remember a thing. I was out there playing and running around because of the adrenaline, but I can’t remember doing any of it. It was scary.”
Fowler, who has bulked up to 210 pounds, opened his senior season with 110 yards and four touchdowns rushing in a 41-6 win over Otisville-LakeVille. He followed with 130 yards rushing in a 42-0 loss to Montrose in Week 2.
“I like being physical when I run and initiating contact,” Fowler said. “I figure that you’re going to get hit on every play so you might as well be the one doing the hitting instead of the one getting hit.”
Chesaning faces 1-1 Ovid-Elsie Friday, and Fowler is ready for the game and for the extra challenges presented by diabetes.
“I do what I have to do, and it might be hard,” Fowler said. “It’s definitely difficult, but I accept it. It’s part of my life. Having diabetes is a challenge, and I have to take care of myself every day.
“But I also look around and see a lot of people who don’t have it as good as I do or who don’t get to do the things I get to do. I may have diabetes and that’s not a great thing, but I consider myself blessed with what I am able to do.”
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