Kiara Updike channels her struggles with her love of Arcadia foo - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Kiara Updike channels her struggles with her love of Arcadia football

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Arcadia, WI (WXOW) -

Coach Updike's success over the years doesn't come down to the team or the players, but someone else on the sideline who means the world to him, his daughter Kiara. 

"You have a big play that didn't go your way, and your disappointed, and then I look up and I see her and it reminds you that there are bigger things than the sport," Coach Derek Updike said. 

For the Updike family, that phrase couldn't be more true as Kiara was diagnosed with Loeys Dietz syndrome in 2005, a connective tissue disorder affecting all of her joints and limbs

"The most common symptom of Loey's Dietz Syndrome is enlargement of the aorta, so they are worried about an aneurysm sometime in my life,
 Kiara Updike said. "I know it's there, and I know it's enlarged already. I kind of feel like a bomb that's about to go off." 

"She has a sunken chest, so we had to talk to her about how are you going to deal with those things when people want to ask questions and how are you going to handle some teasing and things like that," Derek said. "She has always been very strong and I think open and honest with people, and I think that helped carry her through a lot just not to run away from it, but to face it head on." 

" When I was younger, I had a lot of problems with it," Kiara said. "When I was 7 or 8, I told my parents that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was to get my chest fixed."

Kiara has undergone four surgeries in the last four months alone.

 "To watch them wheel her away for surgery, and then I don't know if that's harder than watching her wake up from surgery in pain and agony," Derek said. "Those are hard as a parent. I think for her what is really difficult is that she wants to be able to compete in all these things that a lot of the kids can, and for her to internalize that that it's not one of my options has been probably a difficult thing."

 Although Kiara can't physically compete, she found a different way to continue her love for sports by managing three different times, and of course football being the most special. 

"For any girl it would be really hard to be on this football team, but they make me feel welcome and they make me feel a part of it," Kiara said. "It's just a really special sport for anyone that is involved, and they treat me like part of the team than any other sport that I manage." 

"She's like my little sister," Quarterback Brennan Scow said. "If someone was bullying her or picking on her, I would be right there to back her up 100%." 

And of course, the coach's opinion means everything.

 "I told her you don't  have to be scoring touchdowns and making baskets in basketball, and hitting homeruns in softball for me to be proud," Derek said.  

Kiara hopes to attend UW Madison and pursue a career in Sports Management. A role that seemingly fits her very well. 

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