Friday’s season opener could not come soon enough for HPU shortstop Joshua Gerig, who battled Type 1 Diabetes throughout his college career.

For Gerig, the season opener against DII Hawaii Pacific University culminates a journey at some points he did not think were possible until a future teammate convinced Gerig to come to Brownwood a year after he decided to leave college athletics.

“I went on a mission trip and I met one of the former players, Chad Anders, and he told me about an opportunity to come play here at HPU,” Gerig said. “I wasn’t playing back home so I thought about it, prayed about it, and decided to come here. Ever since then, it has been an incredible experience.”

Hailing from Lebanon, Oregon, Gerig began his career with Linn-Benton Community College, but slowly realized something felt wrong and it was more than physically adjusting to the rigors of college athletics.

“When I was playing in Oregon, I did not know I had diabetes at the time,” Gerig said. “I was going through workouts and I was losing so much weight. I lost around 40 pounds over a couple of months after I quit … I was very exhausted all the time – sleeping and drinking so much water, but it was mainly the weight that lead me to go to the doctor.”

Once diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes, Gerig took a year off to learn to manage his diagnosis. In that time, he received an insulin pump, which he wears during games. Gerig said he was nervous coming back after his diagnosis a year removed from competitive baseball, mostly because it was his first college baseball game and not because of anything misgivings about his health. Since then, Gerig acclimated to playing with Type-1 Diabetes and even uses certain situations to educate opponents and fans about the disease when asked about some of the additional equipment he sports.

“It’s tubeless so it doesn’t get caught when I dive or anything,” Gerig said. “I also have a CGM, which is a continuous blood glucose monitor and that tells me my blood sugar with a 10-minute delay. If I’m out in the field, then I can check it when I need to and that lets me know if I need to drink some Gatorade or take some insulin to bring those numbers down. It’s has been a learning curve for sure.”

Gerig considers his time at HPU a blessing and hopes to return the favor by giving Yellow Jacket fans a season they can be proud of. With a senior-laden roster and a slew of talented freshmen, Gerig feels his team can make a deep postseason run but looks to see what they have in live competition against DII Hawaii Pacific Friday.

“It’s been a blessing. Sometimes I don’t even realize how impactful it has been in my life,” Gerig said. “Just being able to play the game I love for three more years, after I thought I was done. I’ve been able to make connections on campus and with the team. It has just been amazing … We don’t want to just make the conference tournament this year. We want to make it to the next round and really give the school, and us seniors, something they can look back and be proud of.”