Mesa’s Bruno controlling disease while playing football

In addition to knowing his assignments on defense, Colorado Mesa’s Jake Bruno must also monitor his blood-sugar levels. The senior linebacker has Type-1 diabetes and he can’t wear his insulin pump on the field. Bruno keeps juice on hand for when his blood-sugar level drops.



Jake Bruno doesn’t complain about having diabetes. He simply deals with problems that arise from the disease and moves on.

The Colorado Mesa University senior middle linebacker is happy he gets to play college football, which helps pay for his education. He aspires to be a teacher and coach.

“I’ll take the inconvenience any day,” Bruno said. “It’s a small downside to playing college football.

“The passion I have for the game is greater than the hassle of dealing with diabetes.”

Bruno has become a reliable contributor each week for the Mavericks, starting every game since the beginning of his junior year. He’s expected to be in the starting lineup again Saturday against New Mexico Highlands (3-0, 1-0 RMAC) at 1 p.m. in Las Vegas, N.M.

“Jake is a good, solid player,” Mesa coach Joe Ramunno said. “He’s not flashy, but he has a good nose for the ball and is physical. He played a very physical game last week. Our interior has been tough with Jake and the interior d-line. We need to keep getting better around them.”

Bruno is able to monitor his blood sugar with little help.

“He’s always got to monitor that,” Ramunno said. “We have to make sure we have the right diet for him. He’s good about it. You’d never know he has an issue.”

Bruno was diagnosed with juvenile (Type 1) diabetes when he was 9 years old.

“My parents noticed it especially in baseball,” he said. “I lost a lot of weight. I didn’t have the energy to play.”

It was difficult for Bruno to understand.

His mom usually would cook healthy food, and he was never crazy about sweets.

“I didn’t really know what it was, being 9 years old,” Bruno said. “There was a lot of learning to do. The first two months there was a big learning curve. It was pretty hard.”

Bruno had to start testing his blood sugar and kept juice on hand. He had to monitor what he ate by keeping track of his carbohydrate, protein and sugar intake.

That wasn’t much fun for a young boy and still isn’t.

“It makes you grow up faster, just in the sense of being more responsible in what you eat,” Bruno said.

His blood sugar wasn’t difficult to control except when he played football.

“The adrenaline will spike your blood sugar a lot and that’s the hardest part of it,” Bruno said. “When you’re out there for a long time, you crash. That’s where most of the problems come, is from football.”

After his senior year of high school in Bend, Ore., Bruno got an insulin pump and had to adjust to using it.

The insulin pump continuously drips insulin into his body to keep his blood sugar levels stable.

“It’s essentially a fake pancreas,” Bruno said. “It’s more automated than giving shots.”

He can’t wear the pump on the football field, but always has it and juice available on the sideline.

A piece of plastic taped to his stomach to protect the port where the pump connects occasionally comes off from sweating. It came off during the Mavs’ season opener against Humboldt State.

“At times, (having diabetes) is inconvenient, but I really don’t have a choice,” Bruno said. “I feel it for the most part because I’ve had it so long.”


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