A lot changed for Isaac Carp during his freshman basketball season at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.
Carp made an early impact for the Generals, making varsity and serving as one of the top two reserves on Doug Hoak's team. Carp quickly proved himself to be among a small group of young bodies that Hamilton-Wenham expected to build upon over the next few years.
Carp's body was holding a secret that would soon floor the combination guard, however.
Late in his freshman season, frequent trips to the bathroom tipped his parents off that something might be wrong. The test delivered the bad news: Carp had type 1 diabetes.
"Goodbye midnight frappes and flurries," Carp said. "It was a shock because I was going to have to look at this for the rest of my life. It's not like a sickness, like the flu, that's going to be over in a week. It was definitely a real eye-opener."
Eye-opening for sure, but not enough to slow Carp's development on the basketball court.
An altered diet, insulin shots and, later, an insulin pump were the things Carp had to adjust to, and once he did his hoop game continued to flourish. A four-year high school career that included two-year stops at both Hamilton-Wenham then Pingree resulted in more than 1,000 career points, which was more than enough to earn Carp the IAABO Board 130 Courage Award.
"I think (the award) is pretty impressive," said Carp, who was honored at the IAABO Board 130 yearly banquet at Danversport Yacht Club Tuesday. "I got it because of diabetes, which is very unfortunate but it's also not the worst thing that could happen. I'd like to serve as a role model for other kids with diabetes."
The American Diabetes Association website defines diabetes as "a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin."
Blood sugar levels that are too high or too low will have a noticeable affect on a diabetic, and being active in sports or exercise — like playing basketball — can accelerate that process.
After being diagnosed, Carp had to pay special attention to his blood sugar levels at all times, but especially before and after games.
"Freshman year was hard with basketball and school, and it happened in the middle of the season," the 18-year-old Carp said. "Now I wear a pump so it's easier than shots, which I used to have to do. I just know myself better and I learned with time."
Carp admits that sometimes it's difficult to maintain a healthy diet, especially when hanging out with friends. He's found ways to deal with temptations though.
"Spikes in blood sugar will affect my homework and my basketball game and I don't want to mess around with either of those," Carp, a Wenham resident, said. "At first I kind of snuck in the cookies here and there behind my mom's back, but I see all these kids stuffing their faces late at night and I think, 'Oh, that's not good.' I have an athlete's state of mind that I shouldn't be having that anyway. I create excuses for myself."
Carp wasn't creating excuses for himself after he completed his sophomore year at Hamilton-Wenham, he was looking for the right answer.
He had just finished the season as the starting point guard on a Hamilton-Wenham team that captured the Cape Ann League Division 2 title, but he was looking for more.
Basketball had become a big part of his life and he wanted to put himself in the best position to continue playing at a competitive level in college.
Ultimately, that's what pushed him to Pingree.
"It was the worst. The result is awesome, but it was the hardest decision to make," Carp said. "I loved Doug Hoak like a father. He was there for me in a tough time. He was my coach and my gym teacher at the time (of diagnosis). Coach (Rich) Butterworth was important to me too. I was in Hamilton-Wenham (schools) from kindergarten to 10th grade. It wasn't just like friends; these people were my family.
"My goal in life was to play college basketball and coach (Steve) Gibbs at Pingree runs Hoop Mountain and he places kids into that. Pingree is a great school and I felt like I wasn't losing anything. I didn't want to look back and say, 'Man, I should have gone to prep school.'"
Carp is very close to reaching his goal of playing college basketball. He's narrowed his list down to Skidmore, Johns Hopkins and Vassar, with Skidmore as the likely destination at this point.
Carp's high basketball IQ and his backcourt versatility should serve him well at the collegiate level.
"I'll go as far as I want to go," Carp said. "Hard work has been instilled in me by my parents."