Over­com­ing the odds

Cor­ner Brook’s Ryan Brake doesn’t let in­sulin pump get in the way of busi­ness

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - BY DAVE KEARSEY [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_S­port­sDesk

A Cor­ner Brook ath­lete is beat­ing the odds to play his sport

You would never know there was any­thing go­ing on with Ryan Brake if you saw him com­pete on the bas­ket­ball court.

Driv­ing to the net with au­thor­ity, fin­ish­ing at the rim and run­ning a team are just some of the things he does well as a hoop­ster with the Cor­ner Brook In­ter­me­di­ate Grade 8 boys team and the Hum­ber Val­ley Moun­taineers U14 club bas­ket­ball squad.

He is a skilled drib­bler who can drain the big shots when you need it. He works hard and plays to the fi­nal buzzer re­gard­less of what is on the score­board.

The one thing that makes him dif­fer­ent than his team­mates is the ex­ter­nal in­sulin pump he wears when he’s en­gaged in bat­tle on the hard­wood.

He has Type 1 Di­a­betes, a dis­ease that re­quires him to re­ceive in­sulin on a daily ba­sis or he could die. The pump doesn’t do the work for him, but it helps man­age the dis­ease by al­low­ing him to con­stantly mon­i­tor his sugar lev­els.

If Brake has a piece of food for his lunch he has to prick his fin­ger and check his sugar. He has to in­put the amount of carbs he eats into his pump and then his pump pro­vides in­sulin.

It’s easy to know where his sugar lev­els are at any given time.

If his sugar is low, then he’s usu­ally fa­tigued, clammy and looks like he’s about to pass out.

If it’s high, he’s some­what ag­gra­vated, flush red in the face and usu­ally pretty in­tense on the floor. He also has to change the site on his body where in­sulin goes into his sys­tem every three days.

It can be stress­ful for him and his par­ents try­ing to keep it all in check, but Brake doesn’t let it get in the way of him hav­ing fun play­ing a game he’s grown to love since he started drib­bling the ball at three years of age.

He has learned to adapt to the changes the pump brings and tackle the dis­ease head on.

He just keeps it be­hind the scenes and deals with it and doesn’t make a big deal about it with his coaches or team­mates.

That’s a pretty good at­ti­tude when the re­al­ity is he wouldn’t sur­vive without the steady flow of in­sulin that the pump pro­vides 24 hours a day.

“It doesn’t get in my way at all. It’s just there. It’s just life,” Ryan said Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

He ad­mits it is a chal­lenge to deal with his con­di­tion while he’s fo­cused on groom­ing his game to the level where he can play var­sity bas­ket­ball when he grad­u­ates from high school.

Brake has plenty of ex­am­ples to pull from. For­mer NBA first round draft pick Adam Mor­ri­son played pro­fes­sion­ally with Type 1 Di­a­betes, as well as for­mer pro Chris Dud­ley and cur­rent Gary Forbes.

He loves the sport so he’s got­ten used to hav­ing it on him. Other than a bit of ex­tra weight he doesn’t even know he got in on when he’s run­ning back and forth the floor.

Jonathan Snow has been coach­ing Brake for a num­ber of years and he knows about his con­di­tion quite well.

Snow be­lieves Brake is a qual­ity player who has lead­er­ship qual­i­ties and a guy who he be­lieves is one of the best guards in the prov­ince for his age group.

Be­fore every game, Snow has to make sure his sugar lev­els are fine. His par­ents even text him dur­ing games to make sure ev­ery­thing is fine.

There have been times when Snow thought he was go­ing have to take Brake off the floor be­cause he looked like he was go­ing to pass out.

Snow loves the way Brake plays the game with pas­sion and has al­ways been im­pressed with how he never let his con­di­tion get in the way of him be­ing up to the test.

The pump keeps him safe and al­lows him to do what he has to do to get on the hard­wood with his team­mates. He’s also told a lot of peo­ple that he won’t take it off be­cause it has now be­come his good-luck charm.

Some peo­ple choose to let the dis­ease bring them down and never pur­sue a love for a game. He chooses to beat it down and drive to the bas­ket like there is no to­mor­row.


Ryan Brake doesn’t let an in­sulin pump slow him down on the bas­ket­ball court and he’s so used to play­ing with it on him he doesn’t even know he’s wear­ing it. He is learn­ing how to deal with his Type 1 di­a­betes as he strives to be the best in his long-term goal of play­ing var­sity bas­ket­ball when he grad­u­ates from high school.

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