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Football career sets roadmap for former Rifle back

Brooks Pressler playing for CMU. Photo courtesy of Paul Cloud / paulcloud.zenfolio.com
PresslerPic

Football shaped former Rifle High School standout Brooks Pressler.

Amid nearly 15 years of injuries, setbacks and saying goodbye to teammates, he pushed through – setting himself up with a foundation of perseverance moving forward into non-athletic life.

The injuries he sustained as a pre-collegiate athlete are well-known. A high ankle sprain was the culprit behind diluting much of Pressler’s final attempt at a state title.

Once he entered Colorado Mesa University, courtesy of a scholarship, the drive began anew for a championship.

“I looked up to so many guys that were older than me. Once I was finally a college football player, I wanted to be a role model for those younger than me,” he said. 

Life had other plans, however — Pressler suffered a torn ACL in his second year, followed by a fractured foot and hand in his third and fourth years respectively. Ailments limited him to six games in his career as a hybrid safety/linebacker at CMU.

Still, he was able to be part of three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champions.

“I really think my career would’ve gone better if the injuries weren’t in the way,” Pressler said. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about that. I think the only thing that kept me going was (my mindset of) sticking with it.

All the while, playing or inactive, Pressler made sure to keep a focus on his main goal: success in school.

Following his final year as a Maverick, Pressler was named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society. His 3.75 grade point average as a senior was merely a portion of his 3.4 college GPA. Six of his teammates were also named to the list of athletes who finished the year with at least a 3.2 GPA.  

“I believe that football was secondary, and school is what allowed me to play football,” Pressler said. “If there was no school, there was no football. What you’re taking out of school is what’s going to provide you with tools to be successful in life.”

The whole process saw Pressler’s parents take a passenger role. After coaching him for many years, Rod Pressler, his father, allowed him to transfer high schools.

Brooks was in charge of every decision from battling through rehab and surgeries to picking a college destination. 

“There were times, with the ups and downs, where I felt guilty,” Rod said. “I go, ‘Why did I even introduce them to sports?’ Those things run through your mind. But then your kid comes back and tells you that they were some of the best experiences he ever had.”

Following graduation, Pressler has found multiple new passions and challenges.

Alongside helping his dad with drywall, he also picked up hours as a substitute teacher at his alma mater in Rifle before school went digital because of the pandemic.

Yet his final destination still isn’t known. What’s certain is the challenges he’s experienced so far have Brooks on a path for success – something which his father realized standing on the field during Senior Day in Grand Junction.

“You’re just so proud as a parent,” Rod said. “(It’s great) to be recognized for seeing this through, and these are not just athletic achievements, but these are academic achievements. It goes a long way for a parent.

“These are things that are just going to make him stronger and build his future.”

lzahlmann@postindependent.com


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