Britta Curl’s DNA makes it very difficult for her to lie low.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the hockey standout and recent St. Mary’s graduate had to do this spring.
Curl, one of the top returning soccer players, hurdlers and javelin throwers in the state, was forced to sit on the sidelines with a cast on her arm this spring. During her eighth-grade year, Curl suffered a broken left arm, which did not heal properly. She began experiencing significant pain, which eventually led to a surgical procedure at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
After the initial fracture in 2013, Curl’s radius bone stopped growing, but her ulna bone did not, which led to persistent pain. The radius is supposed to extend from the elbow to the thumb.
“What they did basically was cut my radius like in half then took out a chunk of (my) hip bone and attached it to the radius to make it longer,” Curl said.
There was plenty of pain after the procedure, which took more than two hours.
“I couldn’t walk for about a week and my arm was pretty sore,” she said. “I was on some pain killers for a while, and it started to die down after a few weeks.”
The surgery took place after the hockey season, in which Curl played through the pain to lead the Bismarck Blizzard to their fourth straight state championship. The abnormality did little to hinder Curl, who scored 37 goals in 18 games, giving her 189 goals in 119 games in her unmatched high school career.
But the surgery also meant no soccer or track and field. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
“It was difficult because I wanted to be out there with my teammates. It would have been easy to feel sorry for myself and go through all the 'what-ifs' but that wouldn’t have made it any better,” she said. “I did the best I could to support my teammates and cheer them on.”
She certainly did.
At the Saints’ final practice before the state soccer tournament, Curl was running around the field and booting the ball into the back of the net as though she was preparing to play. She did not, but she had a positive impact on the season.
“She was at every game, she was coming to practice just to support her friends and her teammates, even though she knew she couldn’t play,” said St. Mary’s assistant coach Tom Persico.
“That, right there, is a special kid,” Persico said pointing at Curl.
Last week, Curl got the cast removed just in time to head for Madison, Wis., to begin her collegiate hockey career with the Badgers. In fact, Curl began summer school classes on Monday.
“The range of motion is coming back,” she said. “I’m getting close to 100 percent little by little.”
She’ll participate in weight lifting and skating drills during the summer months, leading up to the season in September. Wisconsin is one of the premier programs in the country with four straight trips to the NCAA women’s Frozen Four.
Curl has already proved she’s among the top players in the world at her age level. She was chosen as one of Team USA’s top three players at the U-18 World Championships in Russia last January when the Americans convincingly won the gold medal.
Still, she’s taking a low-key approach to the early days of her college career.
“I know I’m not just going to show up and be one of the best players on the team. My goal is to establish what kind of player I am and learn from the older girls and hopefully have somewhat of a big role. But whatever is best for the team is the main thing,” she said. “Obviously, there are some nerves but mostly excitement. Playing against such great players is really going to push me. I’m really looking forward to learning from the players and coaches and hopefully making a positive impact for the team.”