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Nov. 28, 2021

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Skyview grad Skadsen balances school, sports, health at Arizona

By , Columbian Sports Copy Editor and Writer
4 Photos
Arizona defender Sheaffer Skadsen, right.
Arizona defender Sheaffer Skadsen, right. Photo Gallery

There are a lot of demands on Sheaffer Skadsen’s time.

The Skyview High School graduate faces all of the time management challenges she shares with all college athletes, particularly at the NCAA Division I level, but the takes her academic responsibilities very seriously.

On top of that, part of the University of Arizona junior soccer defender’s life is living with Type I diabetes.

Skadsen is organized because she has to be.

“I really think it might be harder if I didn’t have soccer, because I’m forced to time manage so well,” she said. “If I had free time, I think that I would probably take advantage of it instead of doing what I need to do. I keep a planner that I’m very adamant with. I know when I have to do something by what time, and basically I schedule around everything else I have going on.

She doesn’t mean that she uses a planner app on her phone. She means a planner.

“I like writing it, because I like to see weeks ahead and I like being able to cross things off my list as I go,” she said. “Everyone makes fun of me. My team gets a laugh because I’m always walking around with my planner, doing something.”

Recently named to the Capital One Academic All-District team selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) for the 4.0 grade point average she carries as a physiology major, Skadsen has been a straight-A student for as long as she’s been getting letter grades.

“I honestly haven’t had a B in my entire life,” she said. “I never earned below an A. I just got to college and continued that. I’ve decided that I want to pursue dental school after I graduate. It’s very competitive and you need a good GPA to get in, so that has been my driving force throughout college. I’m keeping my GPA as high as I can to increase my chances of getting into dental school.”

Dealing with diabetes

Skadsen has been diabetic for as long as she has been a straight-A student.

Since her diagnosis as a sixth grader, managing her diabetes has become routine. After years of periodic self-injections, Skadsen now uses an insulin pump to regulate her blood sugar because her body does not produce insulin.

“At this point, it’s just become a part of my day and part of my life,” she said. “I don’t really remember any different.”

Skadsen said she wears the pump nearly all the time, but sometimes takes it off while playing soccer if her blood sugar is running low, because the purpose of the pump is that it delivers small doses of insulin to lower blood sugar. She periodically varies the location of the port where insulin is delivered into her bloodstream.

While she said she hardly notices the pump anymore because it’s so normal now, it does intrigue people who are unfamiliar with its purpose. Skadsen doesn’t shy away from the fact that she is diabetic, but tries not to draw attention to it, either. She said she doesn’t even know when her coaches became aware of her condition.

Her diabetes does make a difference sometimes in sports because Skadsen needs a little extra time during breaks in games and practices to check her blood sugar and sometimes eat or drink something. Sometimes her blood sugar drops enough that she has to take a 15-minute break — and that is when she really notices.

“I have to sit out for 15 minutes when (her blood sugar) falls to a low range, and that’s hard because I basically sip on a juice box and sit on the sideline and watch,” she said. “Even though it’s only 15 minutes, it’s tough to watch your teammates out there working hard and getting better and I’m sipping on a juice box just kind of watching.”

Diabetes is just one more area of her life for Skadsen to organize.

“IIt’s just my personality in general,” she said. “I like to be on top of things and prepared. I try to be one step ahead, so I’m sure that works to my advantage with diabetes.”

Back from the front

Skadsen played forward throughout her youth soccer career, including at Skyview and in Olympic Development Program play. She was recruited at that position, but did not play much as a freshman.

The program went through a coaching change after that season, and new head coach Tony Amato moved Skadsen from the front line to the back line.

Skadsen was not thrilled, but made the adjustment and started to thrive.

“I had played defense briefly in the past for ODP, but I definitely was a forward and that was my favorite thing,” she said. “When I came here, I was excited to have the opportunity to be playing forward. When it didn’t work out, I was really upset when I didn’t really play my freshman year. It was hard to go from playing just about every minute of every game in my life and then playing a different role off the bench. When I got moved to defense and I was actually playing full games and getting a lot of minutes, I really became more a part of the team. It didn’t really matter where I was playing. Just to be playing was what I liked.”

Skadsen has started all but one match in the past two seasons — missing one in September to attend her sister’s wedding — and this fall has logged the most playing time of any Wildcat other than goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman.

Some of her old forward skills have come back into play, however, as Skadsen has converted a pair of penalty kicks in Arizona wins. Working on penalties during and after practice led to her first opportunity, and that one led to the next.

“Coach just looked at me when that PK was called in the game and said, ‘Do you want it?’ I was like, ‘Yes!'” Skadsen said with an “of course” emphasis on the last word. “It was an opportunity to go get a shot and do something different on the field, so I took it. A couple weeks later, we got another penalty and the team looked at me like, ‘So, are you going to take it?’ I just kind of assumed that role.”

What felt even better than scoring, Skadsen said, was a little recognition in game reports.

“Seeing my name in there — ‘Sheaffer Skadsen scored a goal’ — I forgot how good that felt,” she said.

Primed for playoffs

Arizona (10-7-2) is one of nine Pacific-12 Conference teams selected for the NCAA Women’s College Cup tournament, the school’s first NCAA bid since 2005. The Wildcats open play Friday at Oklahoma State, facing a team they defeated 3-1 in an early season tournament at Arizona State after trailing 1-0 in the 82nd minute.

“More than anything,” Skadsen said, “we just want to make a point and show that we deserve to be one of the picks and be out there.”

Columbian Sports Copy Editor and Writer