Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Imagine if your body suddenly lost all energy, you quickly lost a significant amount of weight and your stomach brought about a consistent amount of pain.
Now, picture you’re in the outfield at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in the ninth inning of a Big 12 Conference game.
Oklahoma State senior Saulyer Saxon doesn’t even let this cross his mind because it all too quickly became his reality when he discovered he had Crohn’s Disease.
While most people know Saxon for his infamous mustache, most people don’t know that Saxon started having bad pains in his stomach during his sophomore year. These pains, however, were more than just a typical stomachache.
“My sophomore year when I first found out about it, I lost 20 pounds,” Saxon said. “I had zero energy, and I was sort of freaking out. I didn’t find out until that summer.”
These were symptoms he knew all too well. His mom suffers from Crohn’s Disease, and they knew they had to get it figured out. Saxon wanted to wait until after the season because of how many doctors he would have to visit, but he wasn’t going to miss a single game, even if it meant suffering through the end of the season.
“I tried to ride it out until the end of the season, but certain things would just tear my stomach up and I would be hurting a day after I ate something,” Saxon said. “I did a trial and error of what I could eat and what I couldn’t. It’s not that bad now that I have it under control, but at first, it was pretty scary.”
Crohn’s Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that primarily causes abdominal pain and weight loss. The disorder causes the body’s immune system to attack the gastrointestinal tract. Saxon says his body rejects certain foods, and if he doesn’t treat it, then he doesn’t get the nutrients he needs. He described that his intestines fight themselves and will even eat away at themselves.
“My sophomore year, when I was really struggling with it, I remember being in the outfield and it was a highly stressful moment in the game and my stomach was cramping really bad,” says Saxon. “I was kind of hoping that it just wasn’t hit to me because I didn’t feel like I could run or anything. I was just like, ‘Please don’t let it be hit to me.’”
He started on his prescribed medicine and quickly got on a diet that forced him to closely watch what he was eating. OSU head coach Josh Holliday said that Saxon understands it if his diet requires extra planning or extra discipline in order to eat the things that his body responds to properly.
“To be honest, once the diagnosis was made clear that was what he was dealing with, he made the necessary adjustments to his diet and his lifestyle that he had to get it under control,” Holliday said.
Holliday said that Saxon gained the weight back that he’d lost when he was going through the period of figuring out was wrong. Holliday believes it has been a seamless transition for him because he has dealt with it really well.
“While I’m sure it poses some challenges for him from time to time, he’s never let it be an issue or get in the way of his ability to go about his business,” Holliday said. “It really hasn’t set him back as much as you would think because he handled it so well.”
Saxon says the team gets pretty healthy meals for the most part. He has to always avoid fried foods, sometimes beef and often times the bread on the sandwiches because the wheat is too much for him. Saxon says he has it under control now.
“Each year he’s found his way into the lineup and contributed in a winning way and has done so overcoming Crohn’s Disease,” Holliday said. “It wasn’t an easy thing to deal with as a college athlete, but he’s dealt with it on and off the field.”
Saxon says it was never a question of whether he would stop playing or not. He said if you’re an athlete, then you obviously love what you’re doing.
“I just had to find a way to get through it and figure out what I could do and be disciplined with it,” Saxon said. “There are obviously more severe things you could play with, so it’s not that bad. I don’t think I am playing with a serious handicap.”
Coach Holliday says that Saxon has done a lot of things on his own with the Coaches vs. Cancer program on campus. Holliday describes him as a quality young man and a good representative of OSU baseball.
“He’s a good player, a good person and a kid that I’ve enjoyed getting to know, and I’m glad he’s here,” Holliday said.
Holliday said Saxon is a great source of energy every day and an upbeat guy. Saxon is also the source of the team’s favorite ongoing joke: his mustache. As a team, they all participated in Mustache March, but when Saxon dyed his, the team refused to let him cut it off.
“It was hilarious, and no one would let me cut it off,” Saxon said. “We started playing well, and I started hitting so I just decided to keep it. It’s definitely for baseball and it doesn’t help with the ladies.”
Saulyer Saxon never questioned whether he would let his Crohn’s Disease end his career. Coach Holliday described him as a giver with a team-first attitude. Even when he was in crippling pain, Saulyer Saxon didn’t leave that field.
“It was a good experience and good to know that I could control it with food and self-control,” Saxon said.