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Published November 19, 2013, 09:41 PM

Concordia's Gotta battling two opponents

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - If you're a student-athlete, it's hard enough to balance the demands of school and your sport; Now imagine you have to do it while checking your blood sugar and giving yourself insulin shots several times a day, every day.

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - If you're a student-athlete, it's hard enough to balance the demands of school and your sport; Now imagine you have to do it while checking your blood sugar and giving yourself insulin shots several times a day, every day.

WDAY 6’s Trevor Peterson has the story of Concordia's Luke Gotta, who's learned to manage his diabetes enough to play college football,

Luke Gotta/Concordia Sr. Fullback: “I can't really remember my life without it. It's always been insulin shots and checking my blood sugar.”

About 3,000,000 Americans have Type One or juvenile diabetes, where the body doesn't produce the hormone insulin. Without insulin to convert food into energy, death will occur. Luke Gotta was diagnosed with Type One diabetes at age 10.

Mary Gotta/Luke’s Mom: “We really noticed it when he was swimming and looked like a little skeleton. He seemed okay, but did say later he was feeling tired a lot, got winded easily.”

Gotta went from the carefree life of a 4th grader to checking his blood sugar up to 8 times a day and giving himself insulin injections at bedtime, when he wakes up and every time he eats.

Mary: “It's a complete lifestyle change, especially for a boy that age. Shortly after he was diagnosed, he told me, "Mom, I used to always worry about stuff I wanted and didn't have. Now I see that really isn't important." It really matured him beyond his years.”

Gotta's maturity managing his diabetes enabled him to play football, first at Moorhead High, then at Concordia. (NAT POP: touchdown and cheers) But the numerous demands of a being a college student athlete tested him yet again.

Luke: “Before it was almost day to day. Now it's almost hour to hour. If you don't have it, you can't really grasp what it entails. Type one diabetes is definitely a routine. It's a disease.”

And means always being prepared.

Luke: “With football, my blood sugar tends to run a little lower so, my backpack always has a granola bar or a powerade.”

There's also one always under the bench, for checking his levels during practice and games.

Luke: “I gotta stay on top of it and control it; otherwise I'll be in a hurt locker.”

Cobber teammate Brett Harmelink has known Gotta since he was diagnosed with Type One in 4th grade.

Brett Harmelink: “I think a lot of guys underestimate what he has to go through.”

Mary: “He has to be so disciplined every day. Eating, shots, etc. I'm just so proud of him.”

Terry Horan/Concordia Head Coach: “Credit to him, he's in such control of it, he's gone four years without us even worrying about it.”

And that's about as high a compliment you could pay a college student-athlete with Type One diabetes.

Gotta is the 3rd of 9 children, and just wrapped up his playing career at Concordia on Saturday. He tells us an offensive lineman for the Cobbers was also recently diagnosed with Type One diabetes.

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