B.J. Crombeen, a 28-year-old professional hockey player and right wing for the Tampa Bay Lightning1, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age nine. During the 2013-2014 season, his second with the team, Crombeen scored three goals including one game-winning goal. He is on Tampa’s chapter of JDRF and was recently involved in an event with other Tampa Bay-area pro athletes (including baseball’s Sam Fuld and football’s Tom Crabtree) called Athletes + Causes – with proceeds benefiting JDRF. Crombeen took some time to dish with The DX.
What is your state of mind about diabetes today?
I literally try to make it part of my day. I wake up and check my phone, which is always near my diabetes kit and my wallet, and those items are always with me.
How does it affect your training and ability as a professional athlete?
There are days when [my] blood sugar level gets out of whack or, for whatever reason, it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do…and those days are a challenge. It’s something I really try to check throughout the day and especially before practice. On game days, I check at least twenty times during the day to stay on top of it.
What three words would you use to describe who you are?
Hardworking. Disciplined. Organized.
How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?
I made the decision pretty early on that I wasn’t going to let it change me at all [or] what I was going to accomplish.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I have two kids now (Noah, 4, Boden, 18 months). As my kids grow up, I want them to know you can’t make excuses when adversity comes along.
What do you appreciate most in your friends?
I look for pretty similar personalities to mine… [that] they’re honest, hardworking and have good character.
What would you pack for your favorite vacation and where would you go?
We went to Italy right after we had our first child and I absolutely loved it. I would go to Italy [and I] would pack pretty lightly. I’m a jeans and T-shirt guy.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Not too much, I have to go shopping! I usually try to have fruit in there since I’m a big fruit eater, along with juice and water.
What is your favorite way to relieve stress?
I like to be outdoors, golfing, fishing, and being outside with my kids. Playing with them always is a great way to relieve stress.
What is your idea of happiness?
I try to make every day a good day and find happiness in every day.
What do you most dislike?
What words do you try to live by?
I wouldn’t say there are really any words I live by. Some of the words I said when describing myself, being honest and hardworking and trying to make sure I do that on a day-to-day basis.
What is your greatest fear?
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of sharks.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I like to golf, so I’ve been able to golf on nice courses.
On what occasion do you lie?
I try not to lie! The only time is if you get asked a hard question by your kid and you don’t want them to know the truth yet.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Who are your heroes in real life?
My dad and mom and brother and sister always are very supportive of everything I’ve done and are a big part of my life.
What would you choose for your last meal?
Steak and potatoes.
Any last words of wisdom?
Taking time to manage your diabetes is the best way to keep things under control and it’s what’s worked best for me.
All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
1Tampa Bay Lightning is a trademark of Lightning Hockey L.P.
© 2014 The DX: The Diabetes Experience