Brianna Stelzer moved from defense to midfield when she joined Lakeville South’s soccer team. She will return to defense when she enrolls at the University of Wisconsin.
For those wondering just how tough Brianna Stelzer is, there are several examples to consider.
As a freshman on the Lakeville South girls' soccer team, she suffered an ankle injury during a state tournament quarterfinal game against Eastview midway through the first half. With persistence, some tape and the trainer's blessing, she reentered the game and played for 40 more minutes to close out the contest.
"I just thought it was a sprain," she said. "Tape it up and go."
She was taken to a hospital after the game, where it was discovered she had broken her ankle during the first half.
"She played 40 minutes of hard-nosed soccer on a broken ankle," coach Dan Flood said. "I just can't believe it. It was incredible."
Already with a scholarship offer from Wisconsin during her junior year, Stelzer tore her ACL on the turf at Burnsville. She battled back quickly through rehabilitation, shocking her coaches and teammates.
"When she came back, we were like, 'Wow, she looks better. She looks stronger,'" added Flood, who called her one of the best defensive players he's seen in his 14 years of coaching.
As the anchor of the midfield, she backed that up with 17 goals and eight assists to close out her preps career.
More misfortune came this past winter during a practice with her club team, the Minnesota Thunder Academy. One quick change of direction and she tore her ACL. Again.
"I knew it right away. As it was happening, I knew it," Stelzer recalled.
It wasn't going to stop her from playing the game she loves. Stelzer is in the middle of a six-week rehabilitation program at Tria, once again working her way to what she hopes to be a full recovery.
With similar injuries happening to Stelzer and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Flood jokes with his former star and current babysitter about who will be ready to play again first.
"So, who's going to be back faster -- you or AP?" Flood asked her.
"I did start jogging before him," Stelzer responded.
Stelzer moved from Texas to Minnesota as a freshman and immediately caught the eye of the coaching staff. She started out as a defender before Flood felt that her loads of talent could better serve the team as a midfielder.
It's not too often a freshman will come right in and start. It's also not too often a high school athlete sustains and perseveres through these injuries.
"It's like a different breed of person," Flood said. "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."
Stelzer hopes to be cleared by doctors before she heads to Madison in late July, where she will return to defense and hope to make an impact as a freshman once again.
Another serious injury won't be enough to stop her.
"I've already done it once, so I know I can do it again," she said.