Q&A with Maryland lacrosse player Katie Gallagher

March 03, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

Each week, The Baltimore Sun will publish a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to get you more acquainted with the player and his or her team. Today's guest is Katie Gallagher, a senior defender for No. 1 Maryland, the 2010 Division I national champion.

QUESTION: Why did you redshirt last season?

ANSWER: I redshirted because I got diagnosed with Crohn's in the fall (2009), so I missed the fall and I decided to come back in the spring. I was feeling 100 percent and I played in the first two games and I ended up with steroid myopathy from the [medication] I had to take. Then it developed into costochrondritis. Even with all of that, I was still thinking I could play, but after practicing again, I had to sit out another week or two and ultimately my coaches offered me the redshirt and I accepted.

Q: What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?

A: They're kind of graphic (laughs). It's a kind of a digestive autoimmune disease, so it affects the whole digestive tract. It was like the worst stomach pain I've experienced in my life. It's like lots of ulcerations in your stomach and it's centered in your small intestines. It's excruciating stomach pain and the works, like vomiting, diarrhea.

Q: How did it affect you playing lacrosse?

A: It was hard because my body wasn't where it should be. I was fatigued. I probably lost 25 pounds in the fall. I put most of it back on, but still I wasn't in the shape I should have been to play at the Division I level.

Q: How do you manage your symptoms?

A: They don't have a cure for Crohn's. I'm on Humira which is just an injection every two weeks I give myself that pretty much takes care of it. I started taking that at the end of last spring and it was under control by the summer and, knock on wood, it's been good since then.

Q: Why do you think it's important to talk about it?

A: Crohn's is something we need to spread awareness about. I had a little girl write me a letter after she saw an interview that I did and she appreciated it so much. It is a big deal and some people act like isn't. Although it's hard to talk about, the only way we're going to able to find a cure and help the situation is to talk about it.

Q: Were you there when your team won the national championship?

A: Yes. I was practicing by the end of the season. It was good, because sitting on the sidelines, I still felt like I was part of it. I felt like I played in the game.

Q: Was it easy to step back into the defense after being out so long?

A: It definitely took some time to get back into the swing of things, but I played with Brittany Poist and Sara Cooper for what seems like forever ago, my junior year, so I was familiar with them. I could jump back into it. I'm really just enjoying every second of playing.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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