Anna Triller’s Highs & Lows
Injuries Test Shanley Soccer Standout
by Kayley Erlandson
Photography by Friesen Photography
Anna Triller has played soccer for as long as she can remember. One of her first memories of the sport was practicing kicking a ball through cones with her pre-kindergarten teammates.
“I always loved being part of a team,” Anna said. “I love experiencing different personalities, working with different people. I also love the physical aspect, the contact. When you’re using your hands so much during the day and you have to go to using your feet, it made me push myself to do something differently.”
The road through Anna Triller’s soccer career has been filled with high points and low points, but several things remain constant: her unwavering ambition and dedication to the game, her devotion to her team, and her gratitude for the supportive people in her life.
Anna joined the girls varsity team at Shanley as an eighth grader, the year the team won the state championship.
“I learned so much from my team that year,” Anna said. “As an eighth grader, I was always so nervous, but they were so supportive.”
A solid support system is something that Anna has never had to look far for. She quickly names her father as one of her biggest advocates and supporters, both on and off the field.
“He’s always helping me be the best person I can be in school, sports and my faith. I’m so thankful for that. My family is definitely a big support system. I have been blessed with the best coaches ever. They’ve taught me so much. A lot of stuff that’s not even related to soccer, like having a better attitude. It has affected me a lot outside of soccer. And of course, my teammates. That’s the greatest part about being part of a team, you always have your support system.”
As Anna perfected her soccer game, her playing style became drastically different than her calm, laid-back attitude off the field.
“I’m physical for sure, I use my body a lot. The trick is to have a balance between your footwork and your body. If you don’t go in with your body, you’ll get schooled.”
In high school, Anna began managing and practicing with the boys’ soccer team to get more practice, and says that there are benefits to playing with each team.
Anna, who is predominantly right-footed, said, “With the girls’ team I got stronger with my left foot. There’s emphasis on little stuff like that. The boys’ team is quicker. I have to rely more on my spacing and play more efficiently. You have to tighten up your own game.”
Ambition is clearly something that Anna doesn’t lack, but her soccer journey hasn’t been without setbacks. She opened up about her experience with ACL tears and their effect on her athletic career.
“I tore my right ACL the summer before my junior year,” Anna says. “Someone slid into me. It hurt. It is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Anna had surgery and went through a grueling six-month recovery process to get back in shape for the upcoming soccer season. She spoke about the difficulty of coming back from a major injury.
“I worked hard,” Anna said. “I went back and played my junior year. I had to wear a knee brace. I felt way slower, it hurt, I couldn’t shoot as hard, just random things like that. My fitness was awful.”
It was at this point in her recovery process that Anna experienced doubts about whether she wanted to continue playing soccer. She decided to push through, and in time, began to heal physically.
“Everything was looking up, I was back to absolutely loving soccer. I felt like myself again,” Anna said.
This January, Anna tore her other ACL in the middle of her senior year. Even though she’s already had surgery for her most recent ACL tear, Anna says she likely won’t get cleared for soccer until the end of the summer or early fall.
After working so hard to get back in shape and strengthen her leg after her first ACL tear, the news was difficult to hear.
“I can’t play my senior year of high school,” Anna said. “It’s so hard.”
Anna decided to help manage her soccer team while she undergoes the ACL tear recovery process for the second time, saying that she can “be a positive spirit for them.”
Anna is also taking the time to focus on her physical therapy.
“Physical therapy is hard,” Anna said. “Some things I do, it does hurt. Today I started jumping. This time around, it’s not as painful when I do physical therapy. I know what’s coming.”
She revels in every little victory during her recovery. “You get excited for stuff that you never thought you’d be excited for. When you walk. Today, when I jumped. When I’ll run again.”
Anna isn’t letting her injury get in the way of her other goals in life, either. She wants to get into NDSU’s competitive nursing program and has been taking CNA classes with some of her extra time. She also is learning the violin and recently played the flute in her school’s musical production of Cinderella.
How does she stay positive despite major injuries?
“I always tell myself that it’s going to get better,” Anna said. “No matter how hard it is now, my mom says people have it worse somewhere else. I have the ability to fix it and make it better. It’s a little cliché, but I want to live every moment to the fullest.”
Anna also has some advice for other athletes who have experienced physical injuries like an ACL tear.
“Do your exercises. Everyone around you is looking out for the best in you. Whatever your doctors say, do it. Whatever your parents say, do it. It’s all about staying strong. Don’t get discouraged. It gets better.”
Anna has committed to North Dakota State University’s soccer team for the upcoming fall and plans to redshirt during her freshman year.
She has come a long way from kicking a soccer ball through cones, becoming an ambitious young woman both on and off the field. If her perseverance and positive attitude are any indication, she’ll soon be back on the soccer field, stronger than ever. FMSV