Class of 2015: Taking charge of his life

One sport wasn’t challenge enough for Nick Venema.

Freshmen year, he participated in football, basketball and baseball at Edmonds-Woodway High School. His sophomore year, it was football, wrestling and baseball. In his junior and senior years, it was football, wresting and the track and field events of shot put and javelin.

While practicing or participating, Venema has had to split his attention between competing and a health condition that could deeply affect his performance — type 1 diabetes.

It’s a challenge even for professional athletes, including former Mariners pitcher Brandon Morrow and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

“It’s a matter of if you’re responsible as an athlete — as a diabetic it comes first,” he said. If blood sugar is high or low, “you won’t be participating to the best of your ability. It’s just realizing what’s important, what’s more important than another.”

Venema, 18, plans to attend Western Oregon University in the fall, pursuing a degree in criminal justice and playing strong safety or outside linebacker for the football team.

He said he hopes to be able to talk to youngsters about living with type 1 diabetes. Some children think they’re different because of the diabetes “and hate themselves for having it,” he said.

“I want to talk to them, spread awareness, and that it’s OK. It will be all right.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

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