Four years ago, Teryn Karlstad was just looking to make her mark.
The freshman had recently been called up to join the Regis varsity girls basketball team. In the eyes of coach Patrick Boughton, the skilled young guard was going to be another weapon on an already dangerous squad.
In a practice late in the season, that all changed.
Karlstad darted up the court on a fast break. Ball in hand, she came to a particularly jarring jump stop.
“I just knew that something happened, that something was wrong,” Karlstad said.
In one move, she had torn her ACL and meniscus and suffered a major bone bruise.
All of a sudden, Karlstad continuing as a basketball player was far from a certainty.
“When I had my injury, a lot of people didn’t think I’d make it back. Someone even suggested I take up swimming instead,” Karlstad said. “But for me, a big part of it was knowing that I could come back.”
She knew she could, and she did. Thanks to her recovery, she added an element to her game that has taken her to levels unmatched by anyone in the Western Cloverbelt Conference.
She was primarily a guard while growing up, but Regis moved Karlstad into the post as she worked to regain quickness lost by her path to recovery from the injury. In the paint, Karlstad has found a new home.
She’s averaging 19.1 points and 14.9 rebounds per game as a senior, utilizing her hybrid skillset to be a threat from anywhere on the court.
The transition wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
“I only ever really knew myself as a guard, and to be stuck down in the middle where you’re all congested, it was a hard transition,” Karlstad said. “But I knew that I had grown, and needed to do it for the team.”
It was a team-first approach, something Boughton said is not uncommon from the senior.
“A lot of kids would have said ‘I don’t want anything to do with that, I’m just a guard.’ But she was open to the idea,” Boughton said. “She comes to practice, listens and does what we ask of her.”
Her recovery, like the transition between positions, was difficult. But she did it in remarkable time, returning to athletics five and a half months after suffering the injury.
“As much as I hated going to (physical therapy), I just did what they gave me and kind of doubled it. It takes a lot of work, and I think the biggest part isn’t getting your leg better, it’s healing your mind,” Karlstad said.
She credited her mother with helping keep her motivated during the recovery, and managed to make it back in time to try out for volleyball the next fall.
But basketball is where she has pledged her future. This year, she committed to play Division III hoops at the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities.
“She’s become so versatile, and a lot of colleges noticed that,” Boughton said. “She can spread the floor and she can go in there to get rebounds, post up smaller players. She has that ability to be used all over the floor.”
That versatility is a big part of why she has risen up to become the next in line of talisman players leading the Ramblers each year.
In the past, Regis has had a standout player or two leading their charge to a conference title — the Ramblers have won four in a row. Whether it was Western Cloverbelt player of the year Hannah Anderson in 2016-17 or the duo of Amber Darge and Kate Seyer last year, the Ramblers have produced a dominant force in the league time after time.
This year, it has been Karlstad’s turn.
“There were a lot of great players before me, and I feel like I didn’t fully have my time,” she said. “This season, I got my chance.”
The Ramblers have been knocked out of the Division 4 playoffs in the regional finals two years in a row. Those losses taught Karlstad some lessons she won’t forget heading into this postseason.
“It showed that anything can happen, no matter what seed you are,” she said. “We can beat any team, and any team can beat us.”
If the Ramblers are going to beat any team in mid-to-late February, Karlstad will likely be in the middle of it — wherever she’s needed on the court.