Minneota senior Ireland Stassen, a two-time All-State volleyball player, is also one of the top basketball players in Class A. She has been a part of four state championship teams in the two sports.

A league of her own

Stassen has excelled in two sports at Minneota

It seems all stellar athletes are superstitious to a certain degree and go through various rituals before each game.
Minneota senior standout Ireland Stassen is no different.
“Yeah, I am a little superstitious, I guess,” Stassen said with a laugh. “I think we all were on the volleyball team. I have to put my right arm in my jersey before my left arm, and then I put my head in. I have to put my right shoe on before my left. I’ve been doing it so long now that I don’t even know I’m doing it anymore.”
Whose to argue with the small quirks she may have? Stassen, the daughter of Mike and Sarah Stassen, is in a league of her own when it comes to volleyball and basketball.
Stassen has been an integral part of four state championship teams and a state runner-up team in her career. That number could just as easily have been six state championships as the Vikings were favored in both sports during the 2020 pandemic seasons in which there was no state championship played.
Stassen has been somewhat overshadowed by other standout Minneota players on her teams over the years, but this is her time to shine now as one of only two seniors on both the volleyball and basketball teams (Megan Krog is the other).
Stassen was a setter/hitter on the Vikings’ volleyball team that captured three state titles. She had around 850 kills and 1,900 assists in her career and was named All-State and All-Tournament in both her junior and senior seasons. Stasssen was also named to the All-Tournament National Junior Olympic team this past off-season in which her team finished second.
“It was so nice to end my career with a state title,” Stassen said. “It wasn’t easy, though.”
Minneota, which finished second to Mayer Lutheran in 2021, met the same team again in this year’s Class A final. In a marathon five-set match, the Vikings prevailed in an extended fifth set, 18-16.
Stassen will always be remembered for her exuberant celebrations whenever she or even a teammate had a key block or kill, throwing her head back and stomping her foot to the floorboards and she let out a primal scream.
With little time between sports because of the deep playoff run by the volleyball team, Stassen has quickly become the leader of the Vikings’ basketball team that is off to a 3-1 start despite being a mainly underclassmen squad that has had only a handful of practices.
“I’m trying to be a leader and help the younger players as much as I can,” she said. “We all know each other well from playing volleyball together.”
Stassen, an All-Tournament performer in last year’s state tournament, is averaging around 17 points per game this season and leads the Vikings in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals.
If Stassen maintains her current average, she will reach the 1,000-point mark later this season.
The Vikings lost a number of key players off last season’s state tournament team that lost to Hancock in the Class A state title game. This year’s team is not only young and learning to play as a unit, they also have a new coach in Panka, who moved up from the “B” team when longtime coach Chad Johnston became the boys’ basketball coach this season.
Stassen is as good of a passer as she is a scorer, producing a highlight pass at least once or twice a game.
“I love making a sweet pass as much or more than making a three-pointer,” she said, when asked. “It gets a teammate involved, too.”
Stassen, a student of the game, is also a self-motivator and has played long enough to realize that there are going to be nights that don’t go as planned.
“I get mad at myself as a way to get motivated,” she said. “I tell myself to calm down or slow down. I know I have to keep playing hard and do what we are taught in practice.”
The Stassens live in Ghent. Ireland has two siblings, Creed, an eighth-grader; and Jagger, a fifth-grader. The family has a half-court in their backyard for the kids to play basketball, a court where Ireland has obviously spent plenty of time honing her skills.
She plans to attend Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall next fall to study Elementary Education, but has no plans to extend her sports career.

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