Of all the tough athletes who put forth inspired performances this spring, few — if any — can live up to the intestinal fortitude displayed by Lakeville (Minn.) South soccer star Brianna Stelzer. The senior superstar recently completed a career that included two torn ACLs and, notably, a state tournament game completed despite a broken ankle suffered midway through the first half of the game.
As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Stelzer has served as a modicum of stability for Lakeville South across a four-year career that earned her plenty of attention from college coaches and high school opponents alike. Stelzer proved equally adept while playing on the back line -- where she is expected to contribute at Wisconsin -- and quarterbacking Lakeville South's offense from the center of midfield, where she scored a whopping 17 goals and eight assists as a senior.
Still, Stelzer's signature moment came during her freshman season, when the budding star suffered an ankle injury during a state tournament game against Eastview (Minn.) High. After limping her way over to the sideline, Stelzer was taped up by the school's trainer, insisting that she had only suffered a sprained ankle.
Moments later, Stelzer was back on the field, running as if nothing had happened. In fact, she had suffered a complete break of her ankle, and just refused to stop playing out of sheer persistence. The break wasn't discovered until she finally went to the hospital after the tight matchup finished.
"She played 40 minutes of hard-nosed soccer on a broken ankle," Lakeville South girls soccer coach Dan Flood told the Star Tribune. "I just can't believe it. It was incredible.
"It's like a different breed of person. Some people just have this will or they're just physically cut out for it. She's just a different kind of athlete. They don't come around a whole lot."
While her myriad setbacks have all been a hindrance to Stelzer's prep career, they may have prepared her for any trying times that she may face in the years ahead at Wisconsin. For her part, the teen insists that she aims to make an impact for the Badgers from Day 1 in Madison.
"I've already [contributed as a freshman] once, so I know I can do it again," Stelzer told the Star Tribune.