Tufte tackling hockey career, diabetes

Tufte tackling hockey career, diabetes

Mar 23, 2024
by Nicole Boldrin | AHL On The Beat

Colorado Eagles forward Riley Tufte faces a dual challenge in his professional hockey journey: navigating the demands of the sport while managing the complexities of living with type 1 diabetes.

Despite the hurdles, the 25-year-old Tufte remains determined and resilient, refusing to let his condition hinder his pursuit of his dreams.

Tufte was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 years old. Since then, the autoimmune disease, which disrupts the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar levels naturally, has remained a constant obstacle.

Tufte’s typical game-day routine looks slightly different from his teammates’, as he must carefully monitor insulin levels and count carbohydrates to ensure his body is prepared for peak performance on the ice. Every step of his routine is crucial to maintaining the appropriate blood sugar levels and energy.

“The first thing is to get a good breakfast in after I wake up and get hydrated,” he said. “A pre-game lunch is the thing for me. I try to carb up and make sure everything is set with my blood sugars. Then it’s game time after that.”

Technological advancements have greatly improved the management of type 1 diabetes, offering better monitoring tools, more precise insulin delivery systems, and enhanced data analytics. To manage blood sugar levels during intense physical activity, Tufte utilizes technology and relies heavily on his insulin pump.

“I have a pump, so it kind of does everything for me,” Tufte said. “It reads my blood sugar, so if I’m high, it will automatically give insulin to me, which is unbelievable. I’ve had that for the past two years. and the technological advancements are huge. Every minute to two minutes, I’m getting insulin.”

Although the Coon Rapids, Minn., native faced adversity in his professional and personal life, characterized by a series of highs and lows, he continues to persevere. Throughout his journey, Tufte learned many valuable lessons and emphasized the importance of self-care, encouraging others to stay dedicated to managing their condition.

“The biggest thing is just taking care of yourself,” the 2024 AHL All-Star said. “If you don’t take care of the diabetes, it won’t take care of you. You’re going to have your ups and downs, so every day is a battle, but you must stick with it.”

Tufte aspires to run a camp in the future to educate others and support others within the diabetes community. He serves as a role model and valuable resource for athletes and young individuals facing similar challenges, offering guidance as they navigate their own journeys.

Tufte enjoys connecting and conversing with various young individuals who are interested in openly discussing anything related to type 1 diabetes, whether it be in person or via his social media accounts.

“Anytime anyone has a question, from young athletes to young kids in general, I am always there for them by responding to messages on Instagram and Twitter,” Tufte expressed.

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