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Ellsworth prep basketball: Lange hopes to be a role model

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Ellsworth sophomore Erik Lange takes a 3-pointer on Tuesday, Dec. 13 against New Richmond. (Photo courtesy of Jon Claesson)2 / 2

Erik Lange injured his foot playing basketball with third graders and was sidelined for a couple of games this season.

That injury offers an indication of the Ellsworth sophomore’s character.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Lange returned to the court for the Ellsworth prep boys basketball team against New Richmond. Though the Panthers would lose to the Tigers, 55-46, it was a successful night.

Ellsworth raised at least $1,600 to donate to a Diabetes Foundation by selling shirts that read, “Fight on and find a cure,” as well as from sales of raffle tickets.

The inspiration for the night came because Lange, a sophomore guard who is used off the bench to spell guards and provide the team with a spark, lives with Type 1 diabetes.

“The first memories I have were of my parents having to give me shots,” Lange said. “Usually I have it under control pretty well, some days are worse than others. I swear, like the wind changes or the weather changes (has an effect).”

Head coach Tim Dahl was happy with the way the team and community showed support for Lange and other people that live with the disease.

“It was a good night for that,” Dahl said. “It affects one of our own, so we needed to support him and we raised a lot of money for the Diabetes Foundation. I think every family has family members that are affected and we do too, so we did this.”

The disease can creep up on Lange at practice, but he’s developed methods to keep track of his blood sugars and stays prepared if his levels get off.

“In practice if I get a low blood sugar, I’ll take a couple minutes out to drink a juice box or something to get my blood sugar levels up,” Lange said. “If I’m too high, I can usually deal with that a little better.”

As he battles the disease, his teammates are aware and motivated by the way he conducts himself.

“We’ve been best friends for a long time,” sophomore Logan Benson said. “It sucks because he’s such a strong person. It sucks that it has to be him. Sometimes in sports he has to sit out when we know he doesn’t want to. He fights really hard.”

“He’s the hardest worker I know,” junior Alex Motley said. “He’ll be in (the gym) at 6:15 a.m. game days. Coach will yell at him for that and say save your energy.”

Lange said there is an added purpose for his work ethic.

“I want to be a (role model) to show young kids that they can play sports,” Lange said. “It’s alright (if you have diabetes), you can do whatever you want. With hard work I can show people that have diabetes, you can do whatever you want.”

The support for those battling the disease and awareness that was raised on Tuesday night about the disease is met with gratitude from Lange, who knows he is not alone.

“It’s crazy, the support I feel from everybody and a couple other diabetics in the school, Lange said. “It’s pretty cool to see everybody’s support.”