Strong overcomes obstacles

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Anyssa Strong is flanked by her dad Rudy Strong and mom Celina Strong as she signs her Letter of Intent to attend Martin Methodist College on a soccer scholarship. Back row from left is Forrest coaches Natalie Dennis and Nicole Pickle, along with Forrest Assistant Principal Daniella Beckman. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Martin Methodist signee's determination led her to college grant

Anyssa Strong won't back down, in life or on the pitch.

Epitomizing her strength as a fierce All-District 9A/AA defender for the Forrest Lady Rockets, Strong had a much bigger hurdle to conquer when her son Brentlyn was born in between her freshman and sophomore years.

Intent to return

"It was hard, it took me away from soccer and I didn't like it, but I had to do it," an emotional Strong said. "Some people that have kids don't come back to school and I didn't want to be that person, I wanted to play soccer and I wanted to come back to school because I knew I still had things coming for me in life."

She persevered, graduating with her class on May 21, just days after signing a Letter of Intent to attend Martin Methodist College at Pulaski on a soccer scholarship.

"I'm excited to play with Sarah (Blasingim) again and when I visited the college I really liked what I saw, so I accepted the offer," Strong said.

Team leader

Strong was a five-year varsity player for the Lady Rockets and quickly became the anchor of the defense and one of the emotion leaders of the squad, transposing her indomitable spirit throughout the team.

Anyssa Strong was the heart and soul of the Forrest defense for five years.

"The girls feed from our seniors, especially with Anyssa who showed the team a lot of strength to go through what she did on a daily basis," Forrest coach Natalie Dennis said. "She is a tough girl who has been through a lot and has had the strength that I wish I had sometimes."

Strong will more than likely hone her skills on the junior varsity squad for the Lady RedHawks and Dennis thinks she is a perfect fit for the Pulaski team.

'New challenge'

"They could not get a better defender than Anyssa," Dennis said. "With her speed and strength, she will be a tremendous asset for them in the future."

Strong is realistic about the transition from the high school game to the college level where Martin Methodist posted a 15-5 record this season and made it to the NAIA Women's Soccer National Championships where they lost in the quarterfinals.

"I think this will be harder than high school, but it's just another new challenge for me," Strong said. "I heard coach (John) Tyson was really hard, but I'm just going to push myself even harder than I did in high school."

Strong's appreciation for her teammates and the overwhelming support from her family is what got her through the tough times, saying, "My mom and my dad never missed a game unless it was far away and they always told me I did good even if I didn't and that picked me up and made me feel better and now after the soccer games, even if we lose, when I run to see Brentlyn, everything is better."

Good advice

Strong, who is undecided on her major, had some words of wisdom for Brentlyn based on her experiences that were challenging, but made her a stronger person and even a better parent.

"Nothing can stop him, he can do whatever or be whatever he wants to be if he just pushes himself," Strong said. "You will get knocked down, but get back up and do what you want to do."