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Comeback queen Jade a true gem


ENJOYING THE VIEW — Jade Schultz poses for a photo on the deck of her family’s Beaver Lake home. The 2014 NRHEG High School graduate has experienced many ups and downs while helping the Panthers win two state basketball championships and dealing with knee injuries. (Star Eagle photo by Kathy Paulsen)


Staff Writer

Jade is a hard translucent mineral.

Jade is a gemstone supposedly able to cure pain in the side.

Jade is also a girl that is a gem.

When John and Wendy Schultz named their baby girl Jade, they couldn't have been more accurate.

Jade the mineral is a gem unique for its symbolic energy and the lore that surrounds it. Jade the girl is unique for her beauty, her wide, romping expressiveness, and her robust elegance and commitment.

People with this name have a deep desire for a stable loving family and community, and a need to work with others. They are idealistic, highly imaginative, intensive and spiritual. 

They are visionary, and inspire others.

Graduating from NRHEG in 2014, Jade was a three-sport athlete – volleyball, basketball and softball – from grade 7 through 12. She says basketball was her favorite sport, but she was also an outstanding softball pitcher.

She set records in every sport because she had the desire and will to do her best.

It had to be heartbreaking for Jade when, in the first couple minutes of the first game of the girls’ state basketball tournament in 2013, she heard her knee pop; but she sprinted on down the court. The third time down the court, she shot a three-pointer and made it, but when she came back down she realized the pain went into a new area of her knee.

She had to tell her coach (her dad) to take her out of the game, and she went to the training room to get her knee checked out. 

She was informed that her knee wasn’t torn. She looked at her dad – he looked at her. She knew how bad he wanted her in that game, as the "Schultz-Wagner twosome" worked so well together. She guessed it would be O.K. if she went back into the game, so she did. 

The team later went into a half court trap, and Jade felt her knee come out of place. She started to limp and once again she was out.

Jade missed the next two games, the semifinals and championship, which was really hard. She was thrilled for the team, but disappointed with not being part of it. How hard it must have been for her to sit on the bench and watch!

Jade went to the Twin Cities Orthopedic Center as soon as she could. She underwent surgery on March 21, 2013, and had to miss the spring and summer softball seasons. When one loves the game the way she does, having to miss the season is as painful as any injury.

Following surgery Jade underwent seven months of therapy at Sister Kenny in Owatonna. She had therapy three times a week for four weeks, then was able to cut back to twice a week. She also missed 20 days of school due to her therapy sessions and checkups with her doctor in Burnsville.

Jade had hoped to play volleyball when the fall season started, but she wasn't able to play until mid-season, and then had to play with care. She was able to serve and set but didn't want to risk another injury before basketball season. Volleyball wasn't her top sport, but it still hurt to miss so much of her senior volleyball season.

When basketball season arrived she started practice on November 21, starting slow and with a giant knee brace. 

At midseason, she thought she hurt her knee again. Her therapist thought it was a pulled muscle. Her surgeon ordered an MRI because the knee just didn't seem to be operating the way it should. He said the problems she was having should not have been occurring.

During the Norwood-Young America game, the 2014 Section 2A finals, Jade tore her meniscus, the cartilage deep inside her knee. The cartilage would catch and snag on her bones. She had some deep bone bruising, and the doctors ordered another MRI. 

She was going to need another surgery.

But first there was a basketball season to finish and a softball season to comtemplate. She toughed it out through the Panthers’ three state tournament games.

With the softball season fast approaching, the Schultzes discussed the situation with doctors, and it was felt that she couldn't do too much more damage to her knee. Her doctor told her it was up her if she wanted to go out for softball.

Jade did go out for softball, but didn't do the extra running during practice she normally would have, and she was careful to ice her knee afterwards.

She pitched in every game of the 2014 season, even though her knee hurt. The Panthers played three games in one day at the beginning of May, and it caused her knee to hurt even more. She said she felt more pain when she walked, but she kept putting ice on her knee, and reports that Ibuprofin “became her friend” as it helped get the swelling down.

The Panther softball team finished the season in second place in the conference, behind Randolph, and were defeated by Maple River in the Section 2AA tournament. The team had hoped it would be able to play a couple more games.

At the end of the season Jade was awarded the Golden Bat award, selected to the all-conference team and the all-section team, and awarded most valuable player.

The injuries were hard enough, but perhaps not as hard as seeing her college plans change. Jade and Carlie Wagner were looking forward to being together on the court at the University of Minnesota.

The U of M athletic director had promised Jade and Carlie they would be playing basketball together, but later when a new coach was hired, Jade was told they did not plan on taking any "walk-on" players. Jade was informed there had been a "mis-communication" and she would not be part of the team.

Jade gave her future some serious thought, and enrolled at Minnesota State-Mankato. She plans to move to Mankato August 21 as classes start the 25th.

Jade is not planning on playing any college sports at this point. She believes she will be happy just to play intramural basketball and softball.

Jade claims basketball is still her favorite sport, and though she is a little bit envious that Carlie is already training for the upcoming basketball season, Jade is content to enjoy the rest of the summer. 

She has been working for her grandpa, Andy Lerberg, doing odd jobs in Ellendale and at the farm by Clarks Grove. She has also been working for area farmers Rick Schultz, Adryn Peterson and Jeff Johnson. She flipped grain carts for Rick, picked rocks for Adryn, and raked hay, picked rocks and helped cleaned up the Johnson farm after the storm.

Jade said it has been hard for her to deal with all her injuries and the recovery process, and not being able to do all the things she used to. She still hangs out with friends and plans to focus more on her academics now that she will not be playing sports at college. Jade took as many college level classes as she could while she was attending high school, but there were many late nights and it was hard to hit the books.

Jade had been a standout middle hitter in volleyball, but wasn't cleared to play much volleyball in her senior year due to her injuries.

But despite those setbacks, Jade helped lead the girls’ basketball team to a second straight state championship her senior year. She averaged 11.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, a team best; 4.1 assists and successfully made 81 3-pointers as a senior. Jade received all-conference honors in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 for basketball. She was selected to first team all-area in basketball for the Owatonna People’s Press and earned top senior honors with Wagner for the Owatonna People’s Press.

Jade pitched every game of the 2014 softball season, throwing 22 more innings than any other pitcher in the area with 159. She posted the lowest earned-run average, 1.45. Another highlight was when she threw a no-hitter in the season opener against USC. 

Jade also had a stellar season at the plate with 35 hits, second best in the area, and ended the season with a batting average of .427.

She was selected most valuable player in softball three times. Jade and Hannah Lundberg, the Panthers’ great pitcher and catcher duo, were named the Albert Lea Tribune’s Co-Players of the Year this spring.

Jade says it still hurts that she had to miss the softball season in her junior year.

But she did play in three state girls’ basketball tournaments, and she played in the all-star softball game.

Jade had intended to be a physical education teacher, but now plans on majoring in special education. She feels she can help more young people that way. She wants to be able to help special needs kids.

“It’s hard to see people treat them unfairly,” she said.

On looking back, Jade shares this advice: “High School goes fast, so enjoy it while you can. Being able to participate in school athletics is great. It truly is worth the time and effort.” 

She also says, "Do your math – do it now, don't wait until test time." 

There is no argument. This Jade is truly a beautiful gem valued for her great sparkle and shine.

— — —

Editor’s note: Since this article was written, it was learned that Jade’s first surgery was done incorrectly. The new ACL was inserted in the wrong position. She plans to have surgery during the Christmas break this year, after a donor meniscus can be located, after which she’ll face more rehab. The Star Eagle wishes Jade the best in her recovery.

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