published Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Diabetes doesn't stop Madison Briggs in softball (with slideshow)

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    Madison Briggs pitches for the Bolingbrook Fury.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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2013 NSA A Division Eastern World Series Miss NSAs

• 10-under: Haven Dwyer, OFC Heat (Ohio)

• 12-under: Mara Goodwin, Indiana Gators Finchum '01

• 14-under: Summer Ackerson, Riptide (Fla.)

• 16-under: Madison Briggs, Bolingbrook Fury (Ill.)

• 18-under: Ashley Kleinbub, Indiana Shockwaves

Back home in Warrenvlle, Ill., when Madison Briggs isn't busy playing or practicing softball, it might be because she's busy playing or practicing volleyball or basketball at Wheaton Warrenville South High School.

Or she could be busy playing or practicing the violin. If not, then maybe she's busy studying, or maybe helping in some sort of charitable cause.

Basically, she's busy all the time. And she doesn't let Type 1 diabetes slow her down. She was diagnosed with that when she was 7 years old.

Briggs' 16-under Bolingbrook Fury teammates nominated her for Miss NSA. She was among the five winners -- one in each age group -- announced at Monday's opening ceremonies at Camp Jordan for the National Softball Association's A Division Eastern World Series youth fastpitch tournament. Nominations are submitted and winners are selected based on athletic and academic achievements and community service.

It seems that Briggs is all business, but she has a fun side, too. When she went to the stage Monday, she was all decked out in what was supposed to be 1980s garb.

"I looked really ridiculous when I went up there," Briggs said. "I had a ton of makeup on."

The Fury players had decided to dress in '80s-themed outfits for the parade of teams that took place earlier.

"It was our version of the '80s," Briggs said. "Our parents said that was not at all the way they remember the '80s."

This is the third summer Brooks has played for Bolingbrook coach Dan Kobelt. He said the best asset she's brought to the team is her intensity.

"She's a very serious kid but still a young lady at heart," Kobelt said. "I like to have fun with her and joke with her when she's out there, but she's very subject to change."

Kobelt said now that he's been around her long enough, he can see how her diabetic condition can affect her mood.

"She can go from being happy and bubbly to a caged tiger," Kobelt said. "When that happens, I know her sugar may be low and I have to ask her if she's checked it lately."

She's had an insulin pump for about a year and a half, which helps regulate her blood sugar, but occasionally she still has to administer an injection.

Kobelt said athletically Briggs always seems to be in the middle of things, which includes the diamond and the batting order. In their second pool-play game Tuesday at the Summit of Softball Complex her ninth-inning home run proved to be the difference in a 7-6 victory, and she was the winning pitcher in relief.

Briggs will be a junior this school year and already has been chosen a captain on her high school team. Because she has excelled in some honors courses in her first two years in high school, she has a 4.8 grade point average.

Among her many charitable endeavors she volunteers and participates in the Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes, held annually in locations around the Chicago area, and once she had a 10-minute talk with the former Cubs Hall of Famer. He battled Type 1 diabetes before his death in 2010.

"He was so amazing," she said. "It's difficult to find someone that understands what you're talking about when you have diabetes and play sports."

Briggs aspires to play softball in college, and she's considering a career in physical therapy. She said her teammates tell her she does a good job helping stretch them out before games.

She plays the violin because her older sister started playing it first. She just turned 16 this month and can't wait to get her driver's license so she can drive her younger sister places.

It seems Briggs has reasons for everything she does -- and that's a lot.

"I like helping out," she said. "I like staying busy."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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