Oct. 27—Anniston Monsour fell in love with soccer's fast pace after she started playing at the age of 4. She said she has always had a goal to play soccer in college, but injuries put that goal in jeopardy.
The Lamar School senior tore her left ACL twice in consecutive years while in high school. The injuries took Monsour off the field for a big chunk of her high school career, but she proved they could not stop her from achieving her goal when she announced her commitment to the University of Southern Mississippi on Instagram earlier this week.
"Obviously, coming back from not only one but two ACL reconstructive surgeries, I can't put into words what that must have been like for her," Lamar coach Rusty Warden said. "But, even coming back from that, you can still see the explosiveness that she has. Outside of that, you can see Anniston has tremendous determination and resilience and grit. I've known Anniston since she was 7 years old, and she was that way at that age, and that's what coaches see in her when they watch her play."
Monsour developed into a college talent while playing for Lamar and her club team, Alabama FC (Birmingham United Soccer Association). She was named Lamar's top offensive player as a sophomore, but her 2021 postseason was over before it started when she tore her ACL for the first time just days before the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools playoffs.
The first tear occurred during a club soccer match after Monsour was kicked from behind, which caused her to hyperextend her knee. She could not play the sport she loves for 10 months as she rehabbed her knee and worked to keep her dream of playing in college alive.
Monsour then tore the same ACL again, as well as her meniscus, while running sprints. She underwent the surgery to repair the second tear in October 2022 and was not able to play again until June of this year.
"I go to the doctor and I find out it's the ACL and meniscus, and when he said it was ACL and meniscus, I think I started crying, and I just didn't say anything and went on with my day," Monsour said. "I didn't really say anything until a few days later, and I was like, "I still want to play, and I still want to rehab." It did take me a few days to realize that I still want to do it."
Warden said Monsour played great during his first season as Lamar's girls coach this year. He said athletes who suffer a serious injury like an ACL tear may experience concern, doubt or even fear, but Monsour was able to persevere through those mental blocks because there is no quit in her. She was named Lamar's top offensive player for a second time at the end of this season.
"She was so, so ready to play," Warden said. "She was like a caged up animal ready to go, and I know it had to be difficult for her. When you have an injury like that, there's concern."
The senior has been building a relationship with the coaching staff at Southern Miss since she attended a Meridian Community College camp while recovering from her first ACL tear. She received more attention from the Southern Miss coaching staff when she attended the same camp earlier this year, and she later announced her commitment to Southern Miss after attending a couple of home games this season.
Monsour, who has always liked to play at top speed, said she liked the fast pace that Southern Miss plays with. She also likes how close the Golden Eagles players are with each other. She plans to study nursing while in college.
Warden said Monsour is a college-level forward because she is an impactful offensive player who can score goals, pass on assists and create opportunities. He said Monsour is a tremendous young lady and a walking testament to hard work, and he is sure she will do well at the next level.
"Anniston has now, and always has since I've known her, a relentless desire once she gets in front of the goal to finish," Warden said. "That desire, that work ethic, that belief in herself, coupled with tremendous athletic ability, that propels her to be a forward at the next level."
Monsour has returned to the sport she loves twice following major injuries. She said she told herself she is done with soccer if she suffers another ACL tear, but for now, she is celebrating her achievement while continuing to work hard at improving her skills.
"I feel like I'm on cloud nine, and I'm so thankful for all the people who supported me through it, like my family, God and friends have all been a big support in making me feel loved and happy I've committed."
Contact Christian Knox on Twitter @TheChrisKnox