Optimist player is inspiration to his team

Photo by Jack DiLima/ Coach Jack DiLima, Bruno Testa, and his teammates celebrate a Division 4 Championship earlier this fall.


By Anthony Machcinski

With all the negative events that occur every day, every hour, and every minute that the world exists, something as simple as one boy can inspire all the hope needed.

Bruno Testa, a forward on the Kearny Optimist soccer team in the Kearny recreation program walked with his teammates to receive the trophy for winning the Division 4 championship. It’s not the fact that the Kearny Optimist team won, because a team wins every year, but it’s the fact that Bruno is walking.

He was born with hemimelia, which is an absence or shortening of the fibula bone.

Bruno’s condition was realized when Bruno’s mother Andrea was seven months pregnant.

“It was told that the best thing would be if she would abort,” said dad Jose Testa. “(Doctors) told us that it would be much worse than what he turned out to be. They were unsure if he had internal organs.”

Believing in the gift of life, the parents decided against abortion, saying, “Whatever God gives us, be happy with.”

Otherwise a healthy boy, Bruno was fitted with prosthetic legs as a young child and learned to get around with the devices.

“He was always very active and it became very natural to him,” Jose said. “He was always like that. He always loved sports.”

A natural athlete, Bruno started playing soccer in the Kearny Recreation system. Eventually, he crossed paths with his Kearny Optomist coach Jack DiLima.

DiLima, a member of the Kearny Scots athletic club, became the coach of the Optimists team after Kearny Recreation members attended a Scots club practice asking for volunteers.

When DiLima volunteered, he never thought he’d have this kind of experience.

“Volunteering is the most rewarding thing; I think I even waited too long,” says DiLima.

“It was actually my first year coaching and I didn’t know what to expect.”

Originally expecting a challenge, DiLima was met with surprise when he realized that Bruno was actually really good.

“He dribbled the ball better than half the kids on that team. That’s what put me at ease,” DiLima explained. “That’s when I said to myself, I’m not going to treat him any different.”

One of the blessings DiLima experienced was the respect other players had for Bruno.

“The boys grew up with him. They don’t treat him any different,” DiLima said. DiLima then gave an example, recounting one of his recent experiences with the team.

“During practice sessions, I would conduct scrimmages and pick two captains and let them pick teams. The remarkable thing was that he was never picked last. He was always third, fourth, or fi fth in the order. He was wanted to play with.”

DiLima’s experiences with the young boy have brought a different meaning to his life.

“It makes me cherish the things I have and go as far as I can with any ability,” DiLima said. “He is a remarkable experience for anyone. I hope this inspires others to volunteer to the Youth Soccer Program. The program can’t function without volunteers.”

Despite his son playing with the obstacles he has, Jose was not worried about his son.

“We were worried about other children, to be honest,” said Jose, noting that he tells his son that he has to be careful with his prosthetics.

Bruno’s life is made even more remarkable when his father lists the things his son does and is able to do.

“He played basketball in school, a season of football, went swimming, ice skating, snowboarding. He just loves it, it’s his life,” explained Jose, even remarking that his son, who also has an impairment in his right hand, is able to play the violin and has performed in several concerts.

As for Bruno, his love for soccer can be described by one broad sentence. When asked what his favorite part about soccer, he said, “No (there isn’t one particular thing), I like all of it.”

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