John Rumpza: Profile on a football player

Rumpza continues football career after cancer treatment


Nicole Girgen

Senior John Rumpza stands at the entrance of the Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium on Friday, Aug 31. After being diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2017, a surgery and short bout of chemotherapy, Rumpza was cleared to continue playing football in April. He was grateful the cancer could be dealt with quickly and looks forward to the upcoming season.

Lauren Gennerman, Features Reporter

It is not every day you see college athletes being presented with terrifying news, going through months of exhausting medical treatment and coming back to the field with such a positive outlook on both their health and their playing. But senior Winona State University Warriors football player, John Rumpza, is not someone you meet every day.

When Rumpza went to the doctor last October, doctors found a lump they believed to be a benign tumor, especially since he presented no additional symptoms to point to something more serious. However, upon further testing and follow-ups, it was discovered that Rumpza had testicular cancer.

“When I was first diagnosed, I was very surprised, but I never felt super nervous about the whole process, besides some nerves for the surgery,” Rumpza, a secondary math education major, said. After his diagnosis, Rumpza was referred to an oncologist and urologist at La Crosse’s Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center.

Though the doctors caught the cancer early, chemotherapy and surgery were still the best options. Rumpza had to take a break from football and he lost his hair from the chemo.

“I was diagnosed shortly after Christmas, and I had an orchiectomy. Then I went through one round of chemotherapy about a month after that surgery,” Rumpza said. “I went through my round of chemo during the week of spring break, and then had three other chemo treatments over the span of the next month.”

Though chemotherapy was exhausting and made Rumpza nauseated for weeks on end, he ended up only missing one week of school after spring break. Even his football career did not take a backseat. He was cleared to play after the first five practices of spring ball, making it to the remaining ten, including the spring game.

“It helped that I had some time away from football and had time just to focus on school when recovering from the surgery and chemotherapy,” Rumpza said. “It was tough, but doable.”

Rumpza was not alone in this process. In addition to friends at Winona, his coaches and teammates supported him through this ordeal as well.

“It was nice to be back around the team. It was honestly just a great support system,” Rumpza said. “I think my teammates and coaches were definitely taken aback when they learned I was diagnosed. I have fully recovered, and I am just as fit as I have ever been and am most definitely playing the best football of my career.”

Cameron Keller, assistant Head Coach, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, had a lot to say about Rumpza.

“It is great having him back playing well. He went through a lot with chemo but to see him bounce back has been great,” Keller said. “The quarterbacks love having him back and the knowledge he brings to our position group is one of the best I’ve had. As a coach you never want to see one of your players go through this, but the way he has handled it is as impressive as the fact that he’s back playing at a high level.”

Currently the backup quarterback for the team, Rumpza is feeling confident about the season ahead and is hoping to get significant playing time this year.