Argyle Golfer is Living Out Dream Despite Life-Changing Diagnosis

Argyle Golfer is Living Out Dream Despite Life-Changing Diagnosis

by Steve Gamel

About a week before the Class 4A state golf tournament in May, Argyle freshman Justus Christman called his coach one night to ask if he was allowed to wear a brand-new red glove on his hand during the biggest two days of his young career.

It was a small request and not something you’d expect a golfer to be thinking about. But for Justus, it meant everything.

“I remember saying, ‘Sure, I don’t mind. Why would you ask something like that?’” former coach Brady Bell said with a laugh. “He told me he bought that red glove two years ago, and he’s been saving it for when he could play at state. I thought to myself, ‘Man, I love that.’ He’s worked hard for this. He’s a fighter.”

Christman, 15, has been dreaming of playing varsity golf for Argyle – which has made seven straight trips to the state tournament, winning it all three times – since he was in the fifth grade. But he and his family thought those dreams might be dashed when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as an eighth-grader. He spent two days in ICU after falling ill, which he said involved randomly losing 13 pounds and feeling like he was sleep-walking for three months.

Some 1.25 million Americans, including about 200,000 youth under the age of 20, are living with T1D, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body stops producing insulin. Symptoms include drowsiness, sudden weight loss, labored breathing, and vision changes. There is currently no known cure for this disease, and it requires constant management.

For someone like Justus, that means he is now 100 percent insulin dependent and has to monitor his every move. He takes insulin every time he eats or drinks and has to monitor if his blood sugar is too high or too low – even in the middle of the night. Before he goes out to play golf, he must test his blood sugar, make sure he has eaten enough, and bring enough food with him to keep his energy up. At least for now, he can no longer play 18 holes of golf alone.

“When you get diagnosed with something like this, you don’t know what to expect. You’re blindsided,” said Justus, who before his diagnosis was consistently out on his own getting extra practice rounds in. “I was worried that I couldn’t do what I was used to doing – even riding my bike in the neighborhood.”

Justus added, “It’s been really tough. But you have to find something that works.”

Bell and Justus’ mother, Clarissa, are amazed at how hard Justus has worked to keep his dreams alive.

“You have to be mentally all-in when you play golf. So he’s doing that and being mentally and physically all-in with managing his diabetes at the same time. That’s a lot, and there’s no rest from something like this. It’s constant work from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed,” Clarissa said. “But I’ve seen huge growth in him. He may not always feel well, but he puts in the time. His whole dream was being on varsity, going to state, and winning a gold medal. Then this happened. But he never gave up.”

Justus finished with a two-day score of 163 to lead Argyle to a second-place finish at state. The program previously finished second at state in 2013 and 2014 before winning it all in each of the previous three seasons. This year, the boys won the district tournament by over 100 strokes and placed second at the regional tournament.

Justus was there every step of the way. And regardless of how much his life has changed, his goals remain the same.

“I want to get that gold medal,” Justus said. “Managing this is just like anything else. You work on it and get better at it. It all comes with time and experience.”

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