PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Defeating disease to excel on, off court
By Scott Akanewich
Lauren Crow knew something wasn’t right one day as a third-grader.
“I was feeling weak and really thirsty,” she said.
Her grandfather immediately suspected what might be the cause of young Lauren’s symptoms, so it was off to the doctor the following day, upon which she was diagnosed with diabetes.
Despite there already being a history of the disease in her family, Crow’s parents were devastated as one might imagine upon hearing the ominous news.
“It was the first time I saw my dad cry,” said Crow, now a Liberty Hill senior tennis player who has been the Panthers’ primary number one girls’ singles player this season. “But, for me at the time, I didn’t know what it was all about – it was like someone speaking Spanish to me.”
Crow has Type 1 diabetes, which is when one’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which can cause fluctuation of blood sugar levels and eventually damage to the body.
Ever since, she’s been under the care of doctors on a regular basis to combat the disease.
“I have to go every three months,” she said. “Or else there can be all kinds of side effects and complications.”
Crow also needs to check her blood sugar four times a day and take other specific precautions.
“I always have to make sure I have food around,” she said. “Especially stuff with plenty of carbs.”
Crow’s athletic career has certainly been impacted by the disease, but she has never let it stop her from competing, as she played volleyball and ran track earlier on before she discovered the sport she has dedicated herself to once she reached high school.
“I started playing tennis in seventh grade,” said Crow. “For me, it was more of a family thing because my older sister played.”
Hannah Crow graduated from Liberty Hill in 2018 and also graced the purple hardcourts of Pantherville.
After picking up a racket for the first time, the rest was simply academic, she said.
“Tennis was the kind of sport I was more drawn to,” said Crow. “I like the fact it’s an individual sport in which you’re out there on your own which takes the pressure off. I don’t have a million people depending on me, which allows me to have a clearer head.”
Crow has played varsity all four years and has eventually ascended to the number one singles spot, although it wasn’t something that happened overnight, she said.
“It feels like it took a long time to get there,” said Crow. “But, all along I never felt like I needed to be higher than I was at the time.”
All of it culminated in a 29-2 singles record in her junior season, in which both defeats were to Fredericksburg in the playoffs.
Crow will finish off her senior season, then matriculate to Texas A&M, where she will study to become an endocrinologist, a calling she received as a result of her own battle with disease and the experiences she’s had over the years in the process of getting treatment, she said.
“I’ve never really liked doctors,” said Crow. “I’ve always felt like they try to work my life around diabetes instead of the other way around – they should be helping, so that’s my motivation to try and be better than them at helping people.”
Crow said she first realized she wanted to pursue this particular career path once she arrived on the campus of the high school.
“I pretty much had it in my head going into my freshman year,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be in the health field and initially I wanted to be a veterinarian.”
Hannah wasn’t afflicted with diabetes, which was a good thing, said Crow.
“I’m actually glad if someone in our family had to get it, I did instead of her,” she said. “Hannah is afraid of needles, so I guess I got lucky it wasn’t her.”
One thing the disease has done is cause Crow to pay more attention to detail because her well-being is dependent on it, she said.
“It’s like an added job,” said Crow. “But, it’s definitely helped me to learn better time management and prioritize my health over everything else.”
Crow added the fact she’ll be donning the Maroon-and-White of the Aggies, as opposed to burnt orange is a source of consternation for many of her family members who are Longhorn faithful.
“Now, I’m like the black sheep of the family,” she joked. “But, all that’s done is give me even more motivation to follow my own path and lead my own life.”
However, something that won’t be part of her life anymore after this year is Panther tennis, which causes her sorrow, but at the same time is a source of fulfillment, she said.
“I’m really proud to be a senior and to have my team here, which I’ve grown up with,” said Crow. “I definitely wouldn’t be the senior I am without them.”
Any parting wisdom for her soon-to-be-former teammates?
“I would leave them with the message to always have fun and be a family,” she said.
As for what the future holds for her, Crow hopes to be able to ease the path for others who share her disease.
“I’ll be really grateful when I can help somebody,” said Crow. “I’ll be able to look back and know I made a difference in someone’s life.”