MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former football player, who doctors didn’t think would survive a head injury, walked on the field to see the start of his team’s season.

Isaac Kolstad has spent four months recovering from an attack in downtown Mankato. He suffered a serious brain injury after a fight.

He graduated from MSU last year, but he is still leading his city.

He once wore the number 22 for the Mavericks. This season his community will wear it for him.

“We just know that there’s tremendous support out there and we are so thankful for it,” said Molly Kolstad, Isaac’s wife.

She wasn’t sure if her husband would ever make it back to Blakeslee Stadium.

“This is the worst thing that we’ve ever seen, nobody comes back from this,” Molly Kolstad said. “That’s what we were told.”

But Kolstad did make it back. On his feet.

“It’s a real inspiration to bring the Mavs community together and encourage us all to be stronger,” one fan said.

Kolstad lives in a rehab center, and he can only speak a few words at a time. Doctors remain hopeful that will change.

“He’s going to be a husband, he’s going to be a father,” Molly Kolstad said.

His two daughters helped to raise a flag on the field Thursday to honor their dad. His youngest was born just three weeks after the attack.

“You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have,” Molly Kolstad said.

The family is looking at how far Kolstad has come, and the work still ahead.

“Isaac says that every day, ‘I want to get better, I want to get better,'” his wife said.

The Mankato community has raised $150,000 for Kolstad’s medical bills. He is expected to leave his rehab facility this fall and move back home with his family.

Kolstad stuck around the whole game Thursday night to see the Mav’s beat the St. Cloud Huskies 31 to 0.

Former University of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson and another young man, Trevor Shelley, have been charged with assaulting Kolstad.

They are both out on bail.

Liz Collin

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