Sammons overcomes adversity, looks forward to playing field hockey in college

By Mike McClure

Recently, Sussex Tech senior Regan Sammons of Seaford was just like any other high school athlete when she signed a letter of intent to play field hockey and study at Arcadia University (Penn.). When she was younger, there were a lot of activities that her friends did that she was unable to do, but not this time. Regan doesn't advertise it, but she was diagnosed with Diabetes when she was three years old.

"I'm not really the type of person that's going to use it as an advantage or a disadvantage," said Sammons.

When she was losing weight and having mood swings at the age of three, a pre-school worker advised Sammons' parents to get her checked out. Regan's father, Wayne, knew a pediatrician and he and his wife, Jennifer, took Regan there where they received a shocking diagnosis.

"It kind of took us completely off guard, nobody in the family had Diabetes," Jennifer Sammons said.

Regan had a blood sugar level of 858 and had to spend a week at the AI duPont hospital in Wilmington. Wayne had to carry his daughter into the hospital because she was so weak.

By the age of four or five, Regan started taking control of her medication, giving herself four or five injections a day until she was eventually able to have a pump implanted. Many of her friends don't even know she has Diabetes.

"She has never once used Diabetes as an excuse to get anything or to get out of anything. She doesn't wear it on her sleeve," said Jennifer Sammons.

Sammons began playing fielding hockey in a local recreational league when she was eight years old. She has played middle school and high school field hockey and began playing indoor and outdoor hockey on the travel ball team Gottaloveitoranje in fifth or sixth grade. The team's coach, Kathleen Fluharty, also coached Regan for two years at Sussex Tech and has pushed her to do her best.

Sammons takes her pump off for safety before games and is constantly hydrating and checking her blood sugar levels.

Another love for Sammons was softball. She started playing t-ball around four or five years old and played on a state champion Nanticoke Little League softball team, which was coached by Wayne. Even when her blood sugar was low (60) and she wasn't feeling well, Regan would not come out. Wayne had to call time out and give her some fruit snacks that he kept in his back pocket to help raise her sugar level.

"She's the toughest kid you'll ever meet. She's never questioned why," said Jennifer Sammons.

But while Sammons has been able to play sports all of her young life, it hasn't all been easy. She never left her parents' side as a kid and was unable to do some of the things her friends did. Wayne and Jennifer have also made sacrifices. They haven't gone on a vacation without the kids since Regan was diagnosed with Diabetes.

Another issue Sammons had to deal with was being one of the smallest kids on the field. In 2014 she was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency and had to begin taking shots for that. Her doctor told her she'd be lucky if she reached 5' in height, but a recent growth spurt now puts her at 5'2".

Following her eighth grade year, because of her size, Regan's parents made her decide between her two sports. She chose field hockey, although she also played girls' lacrosse during her freshman and sophomore years.

That love of field hockey came through during Sammons' junior year when she had her foot run over by a car at the state fair over the summer. She played through pain throughout the season before finally having it checked out prior to the state tournament. She had two broken bones in her foot and needed to wear a boot, but that would have meant the end of her field hockey season. However, choosing not to wear the boot, Sammons continued to play field hockey, and she scored the game-winning goal with 2:17 left in the opening round of the state tournament giving the eighth ranked Ravens a win over top seeded Padua. Sussex Tech topped Dover before falling to Cape Henlopen in the Division I championship as Sammons continued to compete with her team to the end.

"That's just her, she persevered. She knew she wanted to play and she did it," Jennifer Sammons said.

In her senior season Sammons served as one of the Ravens' captains and scored the second most goals on the team (eight). Regan, an honor roll student, also excels in the classroom and is planning on majoring in biology with a minor in psychology. She wants to go into animal behavior training.

Sammons is studying early childhood education at Sussex Tech, serves as a peer mentor, and is a member of the Ducks Unlimited and bowling clubs. Outside of school, she is a member of 4H. Regan shows goats at the Delaware state fair as well as county fairs.

"It's nice being able to have friends from everywhere and to meet new people," Sammons said of her time at Sussex Tech.

Jennifer took her daughter to 19 colleges before she made her decision to attend Arcadia. Regan liked the school's small campus feel and liked the players and coaches when she went to visit the college.

"It feels good to have the stress and pressure off," said Regan Sammons.

"We're happy because we can get there if we need to and we can be there if we want to," Wayne Sammons added.

Regan's story is one that she and her parents hope other kids with Diabetes and other illnesses can take inspiration from.

"You can do it. It doesn't have to stop you. It doesn't have to control you," said Wayne Sammons.

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