HARTSVILLE —Coker’s Kathryn Friedmann is a typical college student.
That is, if one defines typical as balancing two majors with sports and two part-time jobs as a tutor.
In addition to her studies and jobs, Friedmann just completed a stellar career as a forward for the Cobra women’s soccer team.
“It’s not that hard. It’s all about time management,” she said. “Sometimes you miss out on some things, but it can be done.
“You’ve got to get some time in to relax, however.”
Try telling that to anyone who doesn’t have such a demanding schedule. In the minds of many people, just having the time to accomplish these things is amazing.
What might be even more incredible is that Friedmann has done this while living with type-1 diabetes. She wears a small insulin pump that she clips onto her belt every day.
“It’s like a fake pancreas,” she said. “(The pump) gives me a constant flow of insulin every hour.”
Time doesn’t allow for sympathy nor accolades when coping with this disease, and Friedmann wants neither.
“When I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes (at age 10), I had already been playing soccer for six years,” she said. “I wasn’t going to let it stop me.
“There’s nothing you can do about it anyway, so you have to suck it up.”
Take off that cell phone
When Bethany Grass arrived at Coker to take control of the women’s soccer program, one of the first things she noticed was her team captain running laps wearing an insulin pump and mistook it for a cell phone.
It wasn’t the first time. When Friedmann first arrived at Coker, her teammates called her “Hollywood” because they also mistook it for a phone.
“I saw her wearing it for the first time, and I asked her if she was running with a pager or a cell phone,” the first-year coach said. “I had never seen an insulin pump before and I honestly didn’t know what to do.”
Friedmann was allowed to wear the pump during practices and workouts. She had to remove the pump, however, during games per NCAA regulations.
“We talked about (the insulin pump) and I let her do her thing,” Grass said. “She was like any other soccer player. If she needed to check her blood sugar, we’d let her leave. I’d barely notice she was gone.”
“In an average soccer match, you’re going to run between four and seven miles, depending on your position,” Friedmann said. “Exercise actually lowers blood sugar and keeps it regular. Playing without my pump hasn’t been a problem.”
Winning — the only thing
Despite having to come out of games to check her blood sugar, Friedmann accumulated 29 goals and 66 total points during her career. Those totals were good enough for fifth and sixth place, respectively, on the school’s all-time list.
Last week, she was named to the Conference Carolinas all-donference team as a third-teamer — a testament to her tenacity.
“She’s an impact player,” Grass said of her senior forward. “She scores, she assists and she takes people on.
“Kat hates to lose at anything, especially soccer. She takes every win and every loss to heart. She loves this game so much and she gets emotional about it.”
Grass added that Friedmann was instrumental in bringing a smooth transition to a new style of play.
“Kat’s a straight shooter,” said Grass, who went 3-15 overall and 2-9 in conference play in her first season. “She was very helpful because she knew the personalities and the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
“If I had 11 players like her every year, I would have a great team.”
As a high school senior in Hendersonville, Tenn., Friedmann chose Coker because of her relationship with former Cobras coach Chris Ayer, among other reasons.
“I knew coach Ayer since eighth grade,” she said. “He was my high school coach’s best friend.
“To make a long story short, Coker gave me the most money.”
The ride didn’t last long, however. Friedmann ended up playing for three coaches in three seasons before Grass arrived.
“I tried to relate to the players because when I was in high school and college, I had six different coaches in six years,” Grass said. “You can’t develop continuity between coaches and players if they’re not there long enough.”
“If the (coaching search) had gone better, the program would have been better than it has been,” Friedmann said. “If we had coach Grass my sophomore year, the program would have been on the right track.”
Nevertheless, Friedmann still looks back on her career with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
“Nobody could have predicted that the coach who recruited me would be gone after my freshman year, then the coach after him,” she said. “There have been some good times, and there have been some bad times.
“Overall, I have no regrets. Everything happens for a reason.”
What the future holds
The future is bright for Friedmann. She is about to graduate in the top 10 percent of her class with degrees in Communications and English.
Soccer will always be a part of her future, but a move to the coaching ranks is unlikely.
“I don’t see myself coaching, even though I do help out with my high school team when I’m on break,” Friedmann said. “I’m looking to enter grad school. Someday, I will probably join an adult soccer league.”