For four years, to every Gardiner football game and every practice, Kolton Brochu brought the bag.

The bag was always full, with juice boxes, granola bars, peanut butter crackers and other snacks.

And, in the midst of all the food and drink was a medicine kit. Brochu has Type 1 Diabetes, meaning his body can’t regulate blood sugar levels and he has to manually keep those levels from skyrocketing or plummeting, either one of which would make athletic performance difficult to impossible.

It’s a daily obstacle, but Brochu has flourished anyway. He served as a defensive leader at safety for the Class C South runner-up football team and earned first-team all-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference recognition at catcher for the baseball team.

For his performance through adversity, Brochu was named the winner in the Beyond the Box Score category at the Varsity Maine Awards.

“You always have to be on top of it. You always have to monitor it,” Brochu said. “It does throw you curveballs once in a while. Even if you’re on top of it, it can hit you with a sneak. You just need to monitor it and work around it, but eventually you can get over it.”

“He’s very subtle,” Gardiner football coach Joe White said. “You would never know that he’s got the bag with him with his medicine and treats and things in there. It’s never held him back, for sure.”

Originally, Brochu thought it would. After mysteriously losing weight in eighth grade, Brochu made a trip to the doctor’s office, where he got his diagnosis. He feared the worst.

“When I first got diagnosed, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to play sports at all anymore,” he said. “Once doctors told me that I was going to be able to, I put my heart and soul into it to overcome it and do the best that I can.”

From the start, Brochu was diligent. He checks his blood sugar level at least four to five times a day, ready to snack if it’s low or administer insulin if it’s high. And if he’s still not sure, he checks again, even if he’s on the field.

“I have to check my blood sugar before the game, and during practices if I feel the need,” he said.

“I realized that I did have to take some extra steps to be able to do it, but I could do it and be successful at it.”

Such a medical burden could cause an athlete to be tentative on the field, but Brochu played like he didn’t have a health care in the world. At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, he authored many of the Tigers’ hardest open-field hits throughout the season.

“It’s the ‘walk softly, carry a big stick’ mentality,” White said. “When he’s coming downhill and he’s going to lay the hat on somebody, you almost wince, like ‘How’s this going to end?’ Usually it’s with him running back to the huddle high-fiving everyone else.”

“I decided to deal with it and play the best game that I could,” he said. “I’ve always been into sports my whole life, so I just didn’t let me having diabetes stop me from doing the things I love.”


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