Athletics: Rosenthal’s name still peppers record books

Kelly Rosenthal is one of five people to be inducted into the Brainerd Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame.

Kelly Rosenthal plays on September 23, 2008, when she broke the school record by scoring six goals in a Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer game at the Baxter Southdale Soccer Fields.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Kelly Rosenthal’s last game as a Brainerd Warrior girls soccer player was Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, in the Section 8-2A final.

Fourteen years later and Rosenthal’s name is still prominently displayed all over the Brainerd record books. That’s why she is one of five people who will be inducted into the Brainerd Warriors Athletic Hall of Fame Monday, May 2, during the Warriors All-Sports Banquet.

Rosenthal will be joined by former teammate Madison Smith, Brainerd coaches Rod Reuer and Lisa Salo and former Warrior Florian “Slats” Fairbanks. There will be a meet and greet 5:30 p.m. in the Brainerd High School cafeteria followed by the banquet.

Rosenthal finished her high school career with 92 varsity goals and 35 assists. Her total goals and total points are still school records. Her 35 career assists were the most in school history until 2019.

During her senior season, Rosenthal led the entire state with 35 goals and 13 assists. Both of those numbers are also single-season school records.


Her six goals in one game is also still a school record.

Nobody appreciated her scoring capability better than former Brainerd head soccer coach Steve Kimble. His last season at Brainerd was Rosenthal’s senior year. Kimble went on to become the head coach at the College of St. Benedict, where he still leads the program.

“Kelly was probably the most talented I coached during my days in Brainerd,” Kimble said. “I think her landing a Division I scholarship opportunity probably proves that. Kelly was wicked fast, incredibly skilled on the ball and could score goals like nobody else. At the time, she was the marquee player. She was it. It was fun having her. I’m not going to lie.”

Rosenthal played half of her eighth-grade season on the varsity, but she shined her last four years. Brainerd finished 4-9 in the Central Lakes Conference in 2005, Rosenthal’s freshman year. Brainerd was actually 12-0-1, but forfeited 11 games because of an ineligible player. Brainerd lost to Moorhead in the section final in a shootout.

I just have really great memories that I still cherish of my high school years.
Kelly Rosenthal

In 2006, Brainerd went 12-1 and won the conference. She along with Jess Bye, Caitlin Barnaby, Elle Adams and Kristi Erickson earned all-conference honors. The Warriors were 17-2 overall, losing to top-seeded Woodbury 2-0 in the Class 2A State Quarterfinal. It was Brainerd’s first state appearance.

“I got to play with a lot of groups of girls throughout the years,” Rosenthal said. “It was nice getting to play with different girls. I obviously played with girls in my class, but got to know girls who were a few years older and younger. Just overall, throughout my high school career, I got to play with a lot of good players.”

Brainerd finished 12-0 in the conference in 2007 with Bye, Rosenthal, Erickson, Megan Bates and Megan Zillmer all landing all-conference honors. The Warriors went 17-3 overall and lost to top-seeded Woodbury 3-0 in the state quarterfinals.

“It was fun to watch us become a state program,” Rosenthal said. “My sister was five years older than me. Her class was kind of the class that started building girls' soccer at that time. It was still a very new program so I watched her class build Brainerd soccer. By the time I graduated, I was lucky enough to have our team where we wanted it. We were going to state or at least consistently playing in the section final to try and advance to state.”


Brainerd again, went 12-0 during Rosenthal’s senior season. She along with Adams, Emily Olson, Sara Parsons and Britta Nelson were all-conference selections. The Warriors finished 15-3 overall after losing to Elk River 3-2 in the section final.

Kelly Rosenthal
Kelly Rosenthal
Submitted Photo

“I’m pretty sure she was the CLC girls soccer player of the year at least one of her years, maybe two,” Kimble said. “I remember going into the conference coaches meeting and sat down. We were going to do the vote on who was the player of the year. One of the coaches stood up and said, ‘let’s not even waste our time. It’s Rosenthal right?’ It was a pretty short meeting.”

Rosenthal was named the team’s Most Valuable Player three years and was a first-team Class 2A All-State selection by the Minnesota Coaches Association her junior and senior seasons.

“Playing soccer definitely helped even in my college years,” Rosenthal said. “Just being able to work well with others and manage my time. I learned to organize priorities and understood what was going to help me in the long run. I did give up a lot of extra-curricular stuff, I did give up my other two varsity sports (basketball and track and field) my junior and senior years after I signed Division I, but playing at the Division I level for four years was worth the sacrifice that I did give up.”

After high school, Rosenthal earned a full-ride scholarship to Illinois State University where she played all four years before graduating in 2013 with a marketing degree. During her four seasons, Illinois State won three Missouri Valley Conference championships and made three NCAA tournament appearances.

“Being a college athlete is definitely a full-time job,” Rosenthal said. “You don’t have time to do other extracurriculars or travel. You’re very busy with your sport, but it’s something I wouldn’t have traded any other experience for. I’m still very good friends with a lot of my soccer college teammates so lifelong friends made there.”

Rosenthal currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina. She is a surgical technician for a veterinarian hospital. She is planning on attending the induction ceremony.

“College soccer was amazing and I had some incredible memories of the NCAA tournaments and stuff,” Rosenthal said. “Those are things you always dream of when you’ve been playing soccer your whole life. That is kind of the end goal. But high school soccer is a lot more about the people, your teammates, and the fun of the sport. There’s not as much pressure for performance. It’s about the love of the sport you play. I have great memories of all of my teammates over the years. Overall, I just have really great memories that I still cherish in my high school years. College soccer was amazing, but high school is very special too.”


Kimble still has fond memories of watching Rosenthal develop as a player.

“I have these images in my head when she was real young, freshman, sophomore, and her uniform was just way too big for her,” Kimble said. “She was racing around the field just pumping balls into the back of the net.

“Her uniform was just draping on her and I remember seeing her when she got back from college one summer and she wasn’t that little scrawny whipper-snapper anymore.”

Now she’s a Warrior Hall of Famer.

“I’m very honored,” Rosenthal said. “I know they have a lot of people to choose from every year. I was super happy when I saw Madison Smith, who I played soccer with, was also selected this year. It was really cool to see her name up there too.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

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