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Senior shares passion for soccer, lessons learnt from struggles

Courtesy Messer Family

Annabelle Messer, ’20, has played for club teams as well to keep her skills sharp and to succeed in any situation on the field.

Playing soccer for 12 years, Annabelle Messer, ’20, participates in the sport through Fresno Christian and various local clubs.

Messer shares how she loves the way the sport challenges and how it is a team sport.

“I think the best part about soccer is the challenge,” Messer said. “I am constantly challenged by new skills; how can I be the best possible player? I also love that it is a team sport and that you have girls behind you who have your back and you all work together for the same goal.”

Messer, during a warmup for a club game last year, suffered a knee injury. She continued to play in the game but her knee would pop out consistently. She then had an x-ray that identified a dislocated patella, but after an MRI, she was informed that she had torn her ACL, meniscus and had deep bone bruising. She scheduled surgery and was told that she would not be able to play soccer for around nine months.

In the surgery, her doctor removed ACL and used her patellar tendon to create a new ACL. The doctor then made three tries to stabilize her meniscus but was able to repair it. But due to them repairing the damaged muscle, Messer could not put any weight on it for six weeks. 

Due to the injuries and the surgeries, she underwent physical therapy. The recovery goal was for Messer to be able to straighten her knee completely, which she still struggles to do. But once she was cleared to walk on again, she was able to begin strengthening exercises. After about three to four months, she was cleared to run in a straight line and then later incorporate jumping and side-to-side movements.

“It’s a very slow process but you have to celebrate the little achievements,” Messer said. “Because you are so much closer than where you started.”

Courtesy Messer Family

Annabelle Messer, ’20, underwent surgery to repair her knee at the end of her junior season.

Due to the timing of her injury, which was right after her junior season, she was devastated that the work she had been putting in had to come to a halt. Messer explained that she had begun training almost every day with a trainer to improve her confidence on the field. She had been working out more and had started getting more playing time on her club team. She shares how she was excited to be finally seeing results. 

“The hardest part of this one season was that I had worked so hard and put so much effort into becoming a player that I was honestly proud of and then it was all done,” Messer said. “I didn’t understand why this had happened and I was so confused at God because a dream of mine was to become an amazing player and just like that it was taken away.”

Despite her frustrations, Messer managed to maintain a good outlook on her situation and continue to trust God.

“I knew this would make me stronger in the long run,” Messer said. “But at that moment, I was heartbroken. Looking back, I wouldn’t change what had happened because I have a new perspective on how to overcome situations that you may not enjoy and how it may have not been in your plan, but God’s plan is so much better than anything we could ever imagine”

Although she was unable to play any preseason games, but eventually, her coaches were able to slowly ease her in. She started playing each game for 10 minutes a half, then 20 minutes, then eventually the whole game again.

Annabelle’s mom, Tricia Messer, comments on her getting back on the field, admitting that she was nervous for Annabelle to start playing again, but trusted her to listen to her body to make that decision.

“I was a little nervous for her to get back into playing soccer,” Tricia said. “I knew Annabelle had good judgment in knowing if her body was ready or not. She was always ready mentally which pushed her physically.  Watching her train again and start to play was exhilarating. Her strength, her determination, and her work ethic are like no other.”

Tricia also shared how it was hard as a mom to see Annabelle struggle with her injury, but how proud of her and excited for her future she is.

Courtesy Messer Family

Annabelle Messer, ’20, has been playing soccer since kindergarten.

“It was heartbreaking for me to see Annabelle injured,” Tricia said. “She was just getting into the groove of the sport. She was stronger than ever and feeling good. But seeing her positive attitude was an encouragement to me. I am excited to see where God takes Annabelle. I know He has amazing plans for her. She is going away to Grand Canyon University. This is a big step for our family.  We are all thrilled for her and know that she will do great things.”

Coach Matt Markarian, also shared about Annabelle’s dedication and work ethic to get back on the field.

“Annabelle was the most determined with her rehab of any athlete I have ever coached,” Markarian said. “Many times we had to try to get her to slow down so she didn’t have a setback. It was amazing to watch her work to get ready for the season. We were so happy she was able to get back on the field and be a part of our magical season because she was one of the integral parts over the past three years that helped put our program back on the map.”

Annabelle will be attending Grand Canyon University in the fall and is majoring in exercise science with an emphasis in sports performance.

For more articles, read COLUMN: Choosing faith over fear or Onward provides family-friendly entertainment, strengthened sibling bond.

Toryn Triplitt can be reached via email.

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