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Beating Opponents While Beating Diabetes

Posted by Courtney Wagner on

At six years old, Marley Navaretta received news from her doctor that she was a Type 1 Diabetic. Her pancreas could no longer produce the insulin she needed to live, so her days consisted of getting five to six insulin shots. The pain of her disease was immense, but did not stop her from pursing her biggest passion in life: volleyball.

“ When Marley was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes we were shocked, scared, and uncertain as to what the future would bring to our daughter (as all parents would be), but one thing we did know is we weren't going to let this disease take control of who she is,” said Marley’s parents, PJ + Jen.

Marley is now 12 and still overcomes many daily issues dealing with diabetes at school and on the court. With having to check her blood sugar 7 – 10 times a day, she often has to step out of a game or class to check her levels. Therefore, she has to miss instruction either from her teachers or coaches in order to keep her health in check.


Each time Marley eats she needs to know what her blood sugar number is so she can put that number in her pump, along with the amount of carbs from the food she eats.

“I must do this to survive,” Marley stated.

If her blood sugar is high, she must do what is called a “correction” into her pump. This correction gives Marley the insulin her body desperately needs and acts as her pancreas. When she is playing volleyball, whether at practice, indoor, or beach, the pump is usually taken off. Between sets or matches it’s essential for her to check her blood sugar to see where the numbers are.


“At times I get very frustrated because I don't want to let anybody down. This includes my parents, teachers, teammates and coaches. I know my health comes first though, so I just try to stay strong, take care of my body, and then get right back to work!” said Marley.

The impact volleyball has had on her life has been monumental. It has taught her to be a team player and to understand that everyone isn’t perfect in every point of every match – or in life. This past season she was declared co-captain of her club team, Palm Beach Juniors, because of the strength and courage she shows on a daily basis.


“Being a captain helped me learn about leadership and accountability for myself, my teammates, and my coaches. These qualities also helped me during beach tournaments by always staying positive, even though things may not be going the way my partner and I always want them to.”

When she grows up, Marley wants to play beach volleyball at The Florida State University! After playing college ball, she then wants to become an Olympic beach volleyball player and represent the USA. Marley’s back up plan (although we’re sure she won’t need it) is to be a pediatric nurse and do what she loves: putting smiles on kids’ faces.

“We are so happy that she found her passion with volleyball because for that moment out on the court playing with her teammates, it gives her a sense of freedom away from Diabetes. It lets her be normal. It lets her know that even in bad days dealing with this disease, she has an outlet that puts pure joy on her face & we couldn't be more happy for her,” her parents relayed.


                   “Don’t let anything stop you from chasing your dreams!” – Marley Navaretta

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