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story.lead_photo.caption Shiloh Christian senior linebacker Lakin Hall looks to the sideline Sept. 1 for a defensive signal during the Saints’ season-opener against Charleston in Razorback Stadium. Hall was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 13 but continues to play football at a high level for the Saints. - Photo by NWA Democrat-Gazette / MICHAEL WOODS • @NWAMICHAELW

SPRINGDALE — Lakin Hall was just 13 years old when he got the diagnosis.

A sudden, unexplained weight loss of more than 20 pounds in about a month’s time signaled to he and his family that something was affecting his health. He was diagnosed with diabetes.

For Hall, who was just entering junior high with aspirations of eventually wearing the blue and gold of the Shiloh Christian Saints, the news was nothing short of shocking.

“When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to play sports, or really how it would affect me,” Hall says now, four years later as a senior starting middle linebacker for the Saints. “But after talking to the doctor and talking to some people who helped me out, we found out it’s really not too big of an issue and you can work through it.”

Hall (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) said once he learned how to check his blood sugar levels and learned how to keep the levels balanced by calculating carbohydrates and administering insulin injections when needed, he’s been able to function like any other athlete.

Shiloh Christian football coach Jeff Conaway was new to the school last summer when he was hired in late June. Although Conaway had coached at the school previously, he did not know the current players on the roster at the time of his hiring.

“I met with his parents and asked them if there were issues or things I needed to be aware of,” Conaway said. “His mother told me ‘don’t worry about it. He will be OK. If you need him in the game, put him in the game.’”

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with his blood sugar levels, Hall said. So on extremely hot days, he will take himself out of practices more frequently to check his levels. He keeps a backpack with the things he needs, including snacks for when his sugar level gets too low.

His play on the field doesn’t hint of the issues he faces in dealing with diabetes. Hall is among the team’s top tacklers and last week, he chased down Bastrop, La., quarterback Jerry Powell for a huge sack in the Saints’ home opener at Champions Stadium. He led the team in tackles last season with 112.

“Lakin is extremely consistent,” Conaway said, “He’s very knowledgeable. He gets to where he’s supposed to be. He’s that prototypical, if you will, high school middle linebacker … very smart, very fast, very athletic. And when he arrives, he can punish the ball carrier.”

Hall admits that he’s often asked himself, “why me?” But he sees the challenge of dealing with diabetes as a way to help others trying to come to grips with the same issues he faces.

“Yeah, I do feel like that a lot, but it’s something that I try to see as more of a blessing from God,” he said. “I think God is going to use me in this in some way in my life.”

Conaway said in the two years he’s coached the Shiloh Christian football team, he’s never seen Hall use his illness as a reason to miss practice or game time.

“There are so many lessons we can all learn — players and coaches — from Lakin Hall,” Conaway said. “Never an excuse-maker, always punching that time clock and going to work and never using that as an excuse. Just his ability to persevere through that difficulty, I think all of us could learn a lesson from that.”

Hall, now 17, has a mature outlook on the issues he faces, not just now but for the rest of his life.

While he knows the circumstances that he’s faced with daily in maintaining a delicate balance, he also still has a hope that one day he can be free of needles and finger pricks.

“Sometimes it gets tough and sometimes it’s hard, but it’s something I’ve had to learn to live with,” he said. “This is part of my health now and it’s something I’ve got to keep control of to stay healthy.

“Football is a thing I love to do, and I love to play. So in order to play football, I have to keep this maintained, unless they come up with a cure in my lifetime, which I hope they can.”

Lakin Hall

SCHOOL Shiloh Christian CLASS Senior HEIGHT 6-1 WEIGHT 205 POSITION Middle linebacker NOTABLE Team leader in tackles as a junior with 112 total tackles. … Helped the Saints to the third round of the Class 4A state playoffs. … Was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 13 years old.

Print Headline: No excuses

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