ST. CLOUD, Minn. (FOX 9) - Soccer season is just getting started at St. Cloud State University, but one of the star players is already making a comeback after a stroke sidelined her for two years.
Kristine Knief has played soccer for most of her life, but this year in particular she is having a ball.
“I do my best when I just play. I love it," Knief said. "It’s unbelievable, honestly."
Knief played for the St. Cloud State Huskies during her freshman year, but while visiting her family in Iowa over Thanksgiving break that year, a tear in the artery in her neck that supplies blood to her brain and face caused her to have a stroke. Doctors told her she would never be able to do anything more athletic than a slow jog.
“When they told me I wasn't going to be able to play soccer again, I was devastated. I was like, I don't know what I'm going to do for the rest of my life. At that point all I knew was my life was flipped around," she said.
But, after two years of recovery and helping the Huskies any way she could - including practicing with her former teammates with no contact - Knief went to the Mayo Clinic where doctors cleared her to return to the soccer field for her senior year.
Now, she is inspiring her fellow soccer players with her hard work and dedication to overcome any obstacle.
"The fact that she was here every morning even though she didn't know if she was ever going to play again. I think that gets a lot of us going and puts it into perspective for us," said teammate Hannah Marion.
Officially back on the field, Knief says she hasn't lost a step, and she's grateful for the entire experience.
“Since it’s my last year, I just want to enjoy it, go back to the reason I started to play and just have fun with it, go out with a bang," she said.
Knief is majoring in community health and hopes to get a job in corporate wellness when she graduates this spring.