Mud Volleyball

By Erin Turnham

This was in August, 2018 and it was a BLAST! $834 was raised for T1D Mod Squad.

You know when you get that urge to drive 4 hours to go play volleyball in a mud pit with people you’ve never met? Yeah. I’m there.

It started with this flyer which Tracy Jenkins Scott posted in the best type 1 diabetes (T1D) support group EVER, T1D Mod Squad.

Tracy is in the T1D Mod Squad because she has a son with T1D. Also she works at RTI (Rainsville Technology, Inc.) in Rainsville, Alabama. RTI makes car parts for Honda and Accura.

Every year RTI hosts a charity mud volleyball event. This year Tracy asked if part of the proceeds could go towards T1D Mod Squad in addition to Toys for Tots, which had already been planned. Both are worthy causes. T1D Mod Squad is a fantastic 24/7/365 online support group for people dealing with T1D in any aspect of their lives. But it is so much more! T1D Mod Squad is also a non-profit group which send kids with T1D to special summer camps, helps families get diabetes alert dogs, assists families with the heavy financial responsibilities of this disease, and aids in many other T1D causes.

Tracy posted the above flyer on the T1D Mod Squad Facebook page. She asked for folks to come play and represent the group. I jumped at the chance.

I’m naturally more on the introvert side of life. I’m fine with things being quiet. After large gatherings where I have to be chatty with a lot of different people I just need to be alone to recharge.

But Y’ALL. My krewe, my posse, my SQUAD. These are the people, MY people. People I message on random Mondays at 3 A.M. People from all walks of life, of different nationalities, economic status, education background, religious convictions, political views, family medical histories… T1D does not discriminate. It is a great equalizer. These are people who daily face the reality of their children’s mortality, and of their own. These are people with whom I feel an instant connection, a deep understanding. Many of them I have never met in person.

In the flurry of messages the week before the event I wrote to my team mates.

I am so excited to meet all of you and get down and dirty! I think it is hysterical that I haven’t met any one of you in real life and yet as soon as this popped up as a possibility I was all, “YES! Imma drive 3 hours, stay overnight, and then get up at the crack of dawn to drive another 1.5 hours to play a game I’m not good at under normal circumstances let alone IN THE MUD with folks I don’t know.” 😂🤣

We chose a team name, T1D MODS Mudders of Diabetics. Somehow with a week left another amazing T1D ModSquad member Annie Jordan (of Passion Peelz, check her fantastic Etsy shop) created a design, printed it, and shipped it. Another MOD, Mechelle Minter Clement, found shirts at a great price and a friend with a heat press put the design on the shirts. BOOM. MODs get stuff DONE.

The night before the event I drove to my brother’s house 3 hours away. I got my gear ready. Beat up sneakers. Tall socks. Leggings. Temporary shirt until I could get my Mudder uniform. Goggles.

Goggles because I was seeing photos of the courts. Like THIS.

And then my wonderful family offered my niece’s mask and snorkel. It would have been rude of me to not wear it.

I set out early in the morning for an hour and a half drive to Rainesville, Alabama. I removed the mask for driving, although I was tempted to keep it on just to see the looks from other drivers.


Back Row: Jennifer Hudson, Amber Mouring Watford, Buck Watford, Jacob Rosson, and Mechell Minter Clement. Front Row: Erin Turnham, Tracy Jenkins Scott, Brandy Rosson, and Courtney Martin.

Once there I found my teammates and suited up. It was fantastic to meet fellow MODs (and one DOD) Tracy, Mechell, Amber Mouring Watford, Buck Watford, and Courtney Martin in person. Finally!

Because we are elite mud volleyball athletes, Courtney and I got our feet and ankles wrapped with super high tech polyethylene coated cloth backed pressure sensitive tape. Duct tape is de rigueur for pro players like us.


Courtney and I spoke to the RTI crowd. We thanked them for including T1D Mod Squad in their charitable giving. Courtney shared the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes because catching a diagnosis early saves lives! We handed out flyers from T1D Mod Squad listing symptoms.


We made some new friends like Dana Moore Greeson and shared our children’s diagnosis stories.


The playing fields are dedicated to Sabrina Haynes Wallace, who worked at RTI. I love that her family and co-workers remembered her in this way.


Then it was time to play! Court conditions: mud with a side of mud.

Lost shoe. Should have used duct tape. Tisk tisk.


We had some good people but our team was quickly knocked out of the tournament. Amber, on the far left, was one of our best players and really went for it! Unfortunately she also broke her arm and had a cast for 4 weeks and a brace for 2 weeks. She’s doing much better now!

Courtney and I were hosed off by the Rainsville Fire Department after our short foray into mud volleyball.


These folks really knew how to play!

Once our team was out I went for a swim…




Muddy and happy! You want to see how to live and laugh in the face of death? Talk to someone who has stared at death, has confronted mortality, and who has kept on going. Cancer survivors, veterans, recovering alcoholics, people who have attempted suicide, or, in my little corner of the world, parents of children with type 1 diabetes.


There are so many people with whom I am connected because of T1D who are fiercely living life. These are people who know that it is ok to not be ok, to cry, get angry, grieve, and it is also ok to laugh.


There is humor, healing, and redemption here. God is here, meeting us at our most vulnerable moments, when we have fallen face down in the mud.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

My people are those who have been down in the mud, close to drowning. I have been there myself. My people are those who have gone through it again and again, who get up, shake themselves off, and step out of the mud.


My people are those willing to reach out their hands, and say I’m sorry that you feel so low right now, but you are loved, and you don’t belong in the mud. Take my hand. You are not alone.



I am so glad that Tracey got this team together. RTI’s Mud Volleyball raised money for Toys for Tots and $807 for T1D ModSquad. The generous folks who were selling raffle tickets for Toys for Tots insisted that T1D ModSquad take half of the money they raised, so an additional $27 went to T1D ModSquad. The money will help fund scholarships for diabetic alert dogs, kids going to T1D camp, and diabetic supplies for families in need.


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