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Ron Powlus III embracing life and football with Type 1 Diabetes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - There's a small fraternity of those who understand the pressures of playing quarterback at Notre Dame. Perhaps nobody knows it better than Ron Powlus, who played for the Irish from 1994-97.

Fast forward two decades, and Powlus is now in an administrative role with the Irish.

“It’s one thing to play in a game and feel like you have a little bit of control of the game and how it goes," says Powlus, who now holds an official title of Associate Athletic Director for Football Operations. "It’s another thing to be on the sidelines as a coach or support staff when you have a little bit to do.”

That football connection has only grown deeper through his son, Ron Powlus III, who is trying to carve his own path just a few miles from Notre Dame Stadium.

“I can lean on him for anything from what to do on third down to what to say in class," the younger Powlus says. "Anything I can ask him, he always knows how to help me out.”

“I’m a good sounding board for him," his dad says. "He likes to talk through things with me and I’ll get home from my work night and he’ll be laying on his bed and he’ll call me in to watch film.”

Ronnie or RPIII, as his father calls him, just wrapped up his sophomore season and first as a starter at Penn High School.

While there have been times of celebration as well as learning moments, Powlus has been proud of his son's leadership more than anything.

"My interaction with Ronnie are more the intangibles - things off the field and leadership and how you interact with your teammates."

Those intangibles are never more apparent than when the 16-year-old discusses the biggest challenge in his life - Type 1 Diabetes.

“I was diagnosed when I was 9 years old," Ronnie recalls. "Just a happy, healthy boy running around like nothing was wrong. One day I got sick and went into the doctor’s office on my dad’s birthday. … I was in the hospital for three days. Went home finally after the third day and just started learning how to live with it every day.”

Now, Powlus pays close attention to his body on a daily basis. An app on his phone helps monitor blood sugar levels, and shots to regulate those levels are part of a necessary routine.

But since his diagnosis seven years ago, Powlus has taken it in stride.

While it's certainly something to monitor, he's never let it affect his goals of taking football as far as possible. And he's never shied away from discussing the 

“The thing he’s done and done so well is to champion the idea that this isn’t the end of the story,” Powlus points out. “This is the way he lives, the way he operates and he’s done a great job at being a good student-athlete and a good spokesperson for succeeding through challenges.”

“It’s only the beginning," says Ronnie. "Everything since that day has changed for the better for me. Even though some people might see it as a downfall or say ‘oh no, I hope you’re alright,’ but for me I’ve just kind of embraced it.”

November is a month dedicated to raising awareness of Diabetes, and continuing the search towards a cure.

Just another passion for the Powlus family, and maybe one even more important than Notre Dame or football.

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