It was 10 minutes after another hard football practice on Tuesday and Columbus East junior center Harry Crider watched his head coach, Bob Gaddis, walk slowly toward the locker room.
“Coach Gaddis helps prepare us for real life,” Crider said. “He stresses team first, and that you work for the guy next to you.
“It’s been great playing football here … life changing. It’s not just on the football field … you learn a lot of skills that you can use as a young man.”
Gaddis is proud when one of his players talks about lessons absorbed from the program, but in Crider’s case, he knows his players all could learn some life skills by keeping their eyes on him.
Crider has been selected to be a “Riley Champion” for his ability to manage and overcome the effects of his Type 1 Diabetes.
In that role, which will begin in November, Crider will be asked to be an ambassador for the Riley Children’s Foundation. Nominees for the champions role are typically ages 8-18 and they are asked to share their stories publicly.
Most people who follow East’s football program might not know that Crider has to monitor his blood sugar during games. He wears an insulin pump and does regular checks before every game and at halftime, along with any other time needed.
“I control it pretty well,” he said. “If my blood sugar gets low, I feel a little out of it.”
East opponents only see the Crider who is relentless.
“He is a tremendous athlete, a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball),” Gaddis said. “We’ve known he was a good athlete for quite some time but he always has played on his feet (as a linebacker or defensive end). When he was a sophomore, he had a good offseason and (offensive line coach) David Miller recruited him as a center because we needed somebody in that position.”
Gaddis noted that all his assistants would have liked to land Crider for their own unit. “He could be a tight end, or a linebacker, and on defense, his spot really is at defensive end.”
As a center, though, Crider helped lead tailback Markell Jones to a state-record 3,536 yards in 2014 while the Olympians gained 5,498 yards rushing as a team. Although Jones left for Purdue, East’s offensive line has cleared the way to an average of 319.7 yards a game this season.
“It’s unusual for a center to be able able to handle a nose guard alone,” Gaddis said. “But that’s a great deal with Harry.”
At 6-foot-3 1/2, 235 pounds, Crider actually looks very lean and doesn’t appear to have the bulk often association with the center position.
“I really like playing center,” Crider said. “I’ve adapted to the position. I think it fits me well.
“In our offense, we need athletic linemen. I use my speed to get to the second level (linebackers). “
Crider is hoping to continue his football career in college, although he feels that he might be more suited to playing a position like defensive end. Gaddis doesn’t rule out Crider playing the offensive line at the next level and said that Crider might surprise everyone and grow quite a bit more.
Six years ago, when Crider was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, he didn’t know if any kind of athletics were in his future. The discovery of his disease gave him a shock that was difficult to overcome.
Working with his parents, Robert and Elizabeth Crider, he worked hard to change his point of view.
“I think the diabetes has helped me in the long run,” he said. “I always watch what I am eating. And I’ve had it six years and I am used to it.
“At first it was hard and I was struggling. But now it motivates me. It has pushed me to be a better person.”
Crider said his teammates know he deals with the disease.
“They see me doing my thing,” he said.
Gaddis said that watching the junior doing his thing is impressive.
“I didn’t know until he came to us as a freshman that he had (diabetes),” Gaddis said. “We never have had an issue with it. He does a great job taking care of himself and he’s going to be a great ambassador for Riley. Not only because he has come through all this, but because of his character and his accountability.
“He has been Mr. Reliability for us, a model student-athlete.”
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AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION
Type 1 Diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
In Type 1 Diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.
With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
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SCHOOL: Columbus East
SIZE: 6-foot-3 1/2, 235 pounds
DID YOU KNOW?: Crider has been selected to be a “Riley Champion” starting in November for his ability to overcome the effects of Type 1 Diabetes