Lakeville (Minn.) South soccer star Brianna Stelzer showed a lot of heart and determination by playing through a state tournament game with a broken ankle, but I'm wondering if her decision may come back to bite her in the future.
Playing through an injury is risky and Stelzer could have hurt herself even worse than she already was. As we've seen in the past from injuries to star baseball, basketball and soccer players, favoring one leg can easily lead to an injury to the other leg.
Obviously it's hard to tell a high school student-athlete that they can't play in the biggest game of their lives, but someone should have been there to tell Stelzer to focus on the big picture.
"She played 40 minutes of hard-nosed soccer on a broken ankle," Lakeville South girls soccer coach Dan Flood told the Star Tribune, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. "I just can't believe it. It was incredible."
Flood added "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."
Focusing On The Big Picture
By Flood's comments, he seems to be more impressed than anything that Stelzer decided to play through a broken ankle. If I was a coach, I would instead be quite upset with an athlete who did such a thing, as it wasn't the proper way to handle the situation.
According to the Yahoo! report, Stelzer scored 17 goals and added eight assists as a senior, and she'll be playing college soccer at Wisconsin.
With that being the case, her decision to put her long-term health at risk by playing through a broken ankle was ill-advised. It looks like she has a bright future ahead at Wisconsin, so risking an entire college career for 40 minutes of glory was clearly the wrong decision.
I'm wondering where the athletic director and trainer were in this situation, as Yahoo! reports that she was simply taped up and sent back out into the game.
Why Did The Athletic Trainer Let Her Play?
A professional athletic trainer should be able to tell when a bone is broken, and when an athletic shouldn't return to a game. Stelzer should have been given a proper evaluation, which would have revealed the bone break.
Perhaps the scenario would be different if this incident happened in the pros or college, but the high school game is supposed to teach young athletes how to grow and develop so that they can perform at the next level.
Stelzer put her college playing career on the line by going back into the game and playing 40 minutes of intense soccer action on a broken ankle.
I understand that Stelzer wanted to be a hero and show that she is strong. I just wish someone would have been there to her tell to focus on the big picture and not let her get caught up in the moment.
Eric Holden has been covering high school sports since 2009. He was a sideline reporter for the New York State champion MacArthur Lady Generals girls' soccer team in 2012. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.