Just by taking a glance at Jordan DePape’s stat sheet, you can tell what kind of player he is.
With 92 points in 103 career games with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, the right-winger certainly has no problem finding the back of the net.
DePape’s biggest attribute, however, is something that will never show up in a scoring summary or record book.
It is the work that DePape, 20, does living with Type 1 diabetes.
It’s something he’s had to live with every day since he was diagnosed seven years ago. But not all of the 300,000 Canadians living with the autoimmune disease play in the WHL or have represented Hockey Canada internationally.
The Winnipeg native has never let it hold him back.
“As long as your responsible and you take care of your diabetes, and listen to your doctors and family, diabetes won’t slow you down,” said DePape, who dawned the team Canada sweater for Team West in the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Championship. “But, you have to put your mind to it.”
DePape, just like anyone living with Type 1 diabetes, needs to constantly monitor his blood-sugar levels and to make sure he’s eating well-balanced meals.
But playing hockey puts the body through rigors that can make it difficult to manage the disease. So for DePape, extra preparation is key.
“Usually my coach will have sugar tabs, or juice boxes and fruit ready to go for me on the bench in case I go low,” said DePape.
It isn’t always easy managing diabetes, he said. The hardest times are during practice.
“I can feel weak and shaky. Sometimes, my trainer will know because I’m doing the drill on the ice wrong, I’ll go the wrong way because I’m thinking 100%.”
Blazers head trainer Colin Robinson, who’s worked with DePape for the last three season, said DePape’s commitment to hockey — while managing his diabetes — is second to none.
“He’s very responsible and knows his body as good, if not better, than any player I’ve ever worked with in the past,” said the 17-year WHL veteran. “He does a great job and he’s an inspiration for other diabetics.”
DePape is hoping to continue that inspiration this summer as he embarks on The George Canyon & Friends Diabetes Heroes Tour. Headlined by country music recording artist George Canyon (also a diabetic), the five-city tour aims to encourage adults and children living with Type 1 diabetes to live a life without limits despite their disease. The tour stops in Winnipeg May 16 at the Park Theatre Cafe.
DePape will be joined with three other “diabetes heroes” in the speaking engagement, which he said will have an “Oprah or Ellen Show feel to it.” He also said he’s looking forward to the chance to connect with other people living with the disease.
“It’ll be a relaxed time where we’ll just hang out and talk.”