Stepping away

SHS student athlete decides to quit sports to preserve his health


Photo contributed by Johnny Brunk.

As Joey Brunk, star basketball player at Indiana University in Bloomington and SHS alum, continues his career as an athlete, his little brother, junior Johnny Brunk, has decided to step away from sports, something he was pursuing since he was 5.

 Brunk grew up mirroring Joey by excelling in academics and athletics. Brunk was on the path to be just like Joey, playing basketball at the collegiate level. He used to play at Southport Middle School, but after his father passed away due to glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, he decided to take a year off, getting home schooled and then eventually transferring to Roncalli.

“My family felt it was important to be surrounded by my faith after everything that happened,” Brunk said.

According to Brunk, he succeeded in his academics and in his athletic career, starting and playing the entirety of all games at Roncalli unless he got into foul trouble. He played at Roncalli for five semesters until he suffered injuries that made him rethink the path he was taking. 

“I decided to stop playing after many repetitive concussions,” Brunk said. “To me, the long term health risks were not something I was willing to put on the line.”

These injuries that he received made him come to a decision; to step away from the court and focus on his education. 

“I’m looking to attend an in-state school next year, and I am working in my family business that deals with real estate and investment opportunities,” Brunk said.

This decision didn’t come easy. According to Brunk, he had some pressure from his parents to excel in everything that he did, including sports.

“It’s disappointing, but it just came down to just the risk being greater than the reward,” Brunk said.

Despite these feelings, his mom, Helen Brunk, thinks it was the right choice.

“Johnny’s decision was made with much thought and prayer,” Helen said. “He has so much to look forward to in the future, and the possibility of that being affected was not worth the risk.”

Although the path he is taking has changed, he still wants to have basketball in his life whether that’s just with his friends or as a spectator.

“Basketball has been a passion of mine since I was 5,” Brunk said. “I really enjoy playing it, and concussions won’t stop me from enjoying it even though it’s not my main focus.”