Athlete of the Week: Colony volleyball’s Calista Ousley and the secret ingredient to her success

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 9:18 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A ball, some knee pads, a net and applesauce — those are the key ingredients to success on the court for Colony High School volleyball’s Calista Ousley, who happens to have Type 1 diabetes.

“Playing sports really affects my blood sugar,” Ousley said, who also competes in basketball and track and field for the Knights. “If we have a stressful game ... it can make my blood sugar go really high. If we have a really hard conditioning day, I go low and then I have to eat applesauce and they (my teammates) all think that’s funny.”

Those who watch Colony’s middle blocker would not be able to tell she has the chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar, or glucose, to enter cells to produce energy.

Ousley is all over the court, and the only time she may step off is address her blood sugar levels.

“She maybe sneaks off and has her little applesauce thing real quick, but it never even enters into things,” Colony volleyball coach Steve Reynolds said. “So I think she just handles everything like every other teenage girl.”

When she is not leading the team in blocks — or eating applesauce — Ousley excels in the classroom with a 4.2 GPA.

“I see her in the school because I work in the school some. (She is a) super student, you know, takes all sorts of hard classes and does real well,” Reynolds added. “She is the kind of kid I like, you know, pretty low maintenance.”

Ousley began playing volleyball just three years ago, when some of her friends convinced her to join the team “because she was tall,” standing at 6 feet, 2 inches. In that short time, the sport has already imprinted a lifelong mentality.

“Volleyball is really a game that focuses a lot on mistakes so it’s really helped my mindset when I play all my sports,” she said.

Professional athletes such as NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, mountain climber Will Cross and MLB outfielder Adam Duvall (who hit a home run in game one of the 2021 World Series) have proven to Ousley that one can have a successful playing career while having Type 1 diabetes — and now she wants to pass that same message to younger athletes with the same condition and to any opponents of such athletes.

“Even though you have a disease it can still — you can still work through it and you can do anything you want really,” Ousley said. “If they have a sensor or something on their arm, ask them about it, because it’s really nice to have people ask and be able to tell and teach more people about it.”

Ousley and the Colony Knights have an undefeated record in the Northern Lights Conference (7-0) as the conference championships approach the first week of November, which is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

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