BROOMFIELD — Tanner Garner is a three-sport athlete.
He is also a Type 1 diabetic.
It is a disease that is only common in 5 percent of all diabetics and doesn't allow the body to produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.
The Broomfield sophomore has athletic peers to look up to in guys like Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and former Gonzaga basketball star Adam Morrison who have beat the odds to succeed at the highest levels.
"They have proved that diabetes doesn't really hold you back from achieving whatever goal is out there," Garner said.
Cutler told ESPN in 2012: "It's something you go to sleep with and you wake up with everyday. It's not something that you can just be like 'Hey, I'm going to take a day off here and I'll catch back up with it tomorrow.' It's difficult to deal with. I think more than anything over the past three, four, five years is I've changed my diet a lot. I think that's made the biggest impact on me being able to control my numbers and being able to control diabetes."
It became painfully obvious to Tanner's parents Greg and Tammy that something was wrong at age 2. Upon moving to Colorado, they noticed that there usually on-the-go little boy was lethargic, was constantly thirsty and had to go to the bathroom a lot.
An initial visit to the emergency room didn't provide any answers. But the next day, Tanner had trouble waking up and the family took another trip to the doctors where they instantly diagnosed him with juvenile diabetes.
The diagnosis did nothing to slow him down and his parents never balked at the idea of their son competing in any athletic arena.
"No. No, never have. We have always taken the approach that Tanner can do anything that anybody else can do. He has always acknowledged that that is who he is and it is not an excuse," Greg Garner said. " The other thing with him, is that he has never kept it a secret. He'll tell everybody and it is OK. He can do anything just like anybody else."
And on the football field, Tanner has been a blessing to Eagles football coach Gary Davies in all three facets of the game. On offense, he doubles as both a tailback and a slot wide receiver and is dangerous with the ball.
"He can basically do a little bit of everything. He has real good hands, so he catches the ball. He is not a real speed-burner kind of kid, but he is fast and very elusive and has good vision. He runs hard when he has the ball and that is not even the best of it," said Davies, whose team is prepping for their regular season finale against Silver Creek.
"He is a mainstay in the secondary for us, he plays safety and he plays corner and to do both of those things in our coverage is tough; and he is also our punt returner. He just does a little bit of everything."
During his freshman year, Garner was a mainstay on special teams and also served as the Eagles' scout team quarterback.
"I've never seen him punt or kick, but I think he could do that too," Davies said.
Possibly one of the most important people to Tanner's success on the field is athletic trainer Dan Rosseau. Along with the help of a student assistant on the sideline, Rosseau constantly monitors his levels and keeps him in the game.
"As far as games, he plays both ways, so it is really all about finding that time to come out of the game. I'll come up to him sometimes and say I'd like to check him and he'll say no that he doesn't have enough time. I trust him enough to know that he'll be OK and to just back off and I've learned to trust him," said Rosseau, who was provided a kind-of cheat sheet by Greg and Tammy before his freshman year.
"The first game against Legacy I probably tested him 20 times and the last couple of games it has been less than 10 just based on what he tells me."
Tanner, who wears a monitor all the time except in game, is a three-sport athlete with visions of playing Division I baseball when the time comes. This season on the football field, he has accounted for 404 all-purpose yards, 18 tackles and two interceptions.
"I have always been a three-sport athlete. Diabetes hasn't slowed me down, but yeah, I have to monitor it and keep a close eye on it," he said. "Never has it crossed my mind that I shouldn't play sports because of it. It is just always something I have lived with and learned to deal with."