People to Know 2019: Kate Hall
Kate Hall can jump—far. In 2015, as a high school senior, her record-breaking long jump spanned 22 feet and 5 inches. That’s about the distance from the three-point line to the basket on an NBA basketball court.
Since then, she’s won two Division 1 NCAA championships and qualified for the finals of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team trials. Now, at 22, she’s a professional long-jumper with her eyes set on the 2020 Olympics. Oh, and she lives with both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
Kate tried track and field for the first time at a summer program when she was 10 years old. She was hooked from the word go. When she was diagnosed with diabetes and celiac disease months later, her participation in the sport was less a question of if than how. The answer: by taking charge of her diabetes management and paying attention to what worked—and what didn’t. That meant switching from insulin pens to a pump for greater control, and then opting for a tubeless pump when traditional tubing and infusion sets posed problems during competition.
I’ve been in this trial-and-error mode a lot myself, and I’m closely acquainted with the challenges diabetes poses to a professional athlete’s training. But while Kate acknowledges the difficulties and frustrations of living with diabetes and celiac disease, her optimism and determination keep her moving forward.
Professionally, she’s at the top of her game. And personally, she’s using that platform to advocate for diabetes. She appeared before Congress in 2015 to campaign for diabetes research that will hopefully lead to a cure. She’s also spoken at numerous diabetes events to encourage others not to compromise their dreams or hide their condition. Kate competes proudly with her insulin pump on her arm and will continue to do so at the Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon, next summer. I’ll be cheering her on as she continues to make the diabetes community proud.
Kris Freeman is a four-time Olympic cross-country skier who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teen.