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Soccer lover pens first picture book, 'Game Day'

Date: 4/18/2013

By Lori Szepelak

SPRINGFIELD — A love of soccer runs deep in the D'Agostino family, according to Catherine D'Agostino, who recently published her first picture book titled "Game Day."

"I started playing soccer at age eight and even though I played other sports throughout my school years, my favorite was always soccer," she said during an interview with Reminder Publications.

Growing up in Sixteen Acres, she played with several park and recreation teams, and loved being on the Sixteen Acres Lions Club team.

"Everyone in my family played soccer, that's why I especially love the sport," she said, adding there were many times she was on the sidelines with family members while her older brothers played.

D'Agostino's love of soccer comes through in her writing for Game Day, which is targeted for boys and girls ages 5 to 8.

"It seemed natural to write a children's book about soccer," she said.

What sets "Game Day" apart from other books is that the lead character, Simona, has Type 1 diabetes.

Last month, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) released new research estimating the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007, a 41 percent increase over a five-year period.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

The ADA estimates that nearly 26 million adults and children in the United States are living with diabetes, and now with the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with Type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.

"I wanted "Game Day" to be a positive book and show that even though special medical care needs to be observed, diabetes will not stop Simona from playing her best and having fun at her favorite sport," D'Agostino said.

"Game Day" takes readers through a typical day of a youngster preparing for her first game of the season.

"There is always something special about the first day," she said. "This is the day you wait for."

To ensure that Simona's medical care routine was portrayed accurately, D'Agostino sought out the counsel of a regional physician who specializes in diabetes.

"I wanted to convey to kids that if you take care of yourself, you can play the sport you love and be the best you can be," she said, noting she has seen several girls "close to her" who are young athletes and are dealing with diabetes.

"My goal with the book is to raise funds for diabetes charities," she said.

Illustrator Jenny Kelley of Plymouth, an award-winning artist, brought D'Agostino's vision to the drawing board "beautifully," according to the author.

The cost of "Game Day" is $9.99 and can be purchased online at D'Agostino noted that the order would be placed through Amazon, but, filled locally through the Work Opportunity Center in Agawam.

D'Agostino said she would be remiss if she also didn't mention the wonderful mentors from SCORE she has worked with since last fall.

"Thank you to Walter Crawford and Charlie Johnson for their invaluable advice on business principles, production, marketing and management," she said.

D'Agostino has worked with children for 25 years as an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and a certified special education teacher. Currently, she divides her time working as an occupational therapist with children and as a physical therapist in an outpatient orthopedic setting.

D'Agostino is also available for presentations and details are provided on her website.