The top girls soccer player in Ohio has been making sacrifices since she was in elementary school. Fortunately for Tahnai Annis, her unique talents have helped
make sure those sacrifices have paid dividends. Annis wrapped up her senior season at Pickerington North
this fall by leading the Panthers to the program's first-ever state
semifinal berth and being named the Huntington Bank/Ohio High Player of the
Year in girls soccer.
The top girls soccer player in Ohio has been making sacrifices for her sport since she was in elementary school.
Fortunately for Tahnai Annis, her unique talents have helped make sure those sacrifices have paid the dividends they were supposed to.
Tahnai Annis wrapped up her senior season at Pickerington North this fall by leading the Panthers to the program's first-ever state semifinal berth and being named the Huntington Bank/Ohio High Player of the Year in girls soccer.
Playing a combination of central midfield and forward, Annis accounted for 18 goals and five assists for 17-3-2 North. The team came one match shy of the state title game, falling 1-0 to eventual state champion St. Ursula Academy on a controversial overtime goal.
Annis is a player noted for superb attacking talents and unusual aerial talents for a shorter athlete.
“I really like to be creative with the ball,” Annis said. “I like to distribute to people as well as score.”
Despite the frustrations of her senior season, the body of work Annis leaves behind is a testament both to her abilities as an athlete and her maturity as a person.
Starting with selecting soccer over gymnastics at age 10 and then dropping her second-favorite sport, basketball, four years later, Annis has made difficult decisions to get the most from her gift.
“It was hard, I really enjoyed basketball,” she said of the choice made before her freshman year of high school. “But it came out of common sense. If I wanted go to college and play at a Division I school, I would have to play year-round.
“I wanted to better myself so I made the decision to focus on soccer.”
The immediate results were two All-Ohio selections and a pair of Eastern District Player of the Year awards while a freshman and sophomore at Tri-Valley High School in Dresden.
Following her second year at Tri-Valley, Annis made the decision that she needed to move on to a program which would better meet her soccer needs.
Annis felt she required a larger stage on which to compete, and many of her club teammates were students at North, one of the better girls programs in the Ohio Capital Conference.
Since it was not realistic for Annis' entire family to re-locate to Pickerington, over the last two years Annis established residency with teammates, living the entire school year with the family of a North player and visiting her parents occasionally on weekends.
“Her family support is outstanding,” said Brandon Koons, Annis' club coach with Ambassadors S.C. “As she has traveled all over the country for tournaments and to receive awards her family has always been there with her.”
Though the archetypal figure when high school students transfer for athletic reasons is a manipulative parent, in this case it was Annis calling the shots.
“My parents didn't like the idea at all when I first brought it up,” she said.
“They were my last years in high school and they wanted me to be around.”
But after realizing that if Annis were to remain at Tri-Valley she would not be satisfied, her parents relented
“They said they would rather me be happy, even if I was away from them. It was a big sacrifice for them and I really appreciated it. Not many parents would allow their kid to be away from home like that.”
After her first season at North, Annis was able to realize her dream and verbally committed to play soccer at the University of Florida.
With both of the Gators' central midfielders set to graduate this spring, it is possible Annis could step right into the lineup of the SEC's top women's program.
Holding a number of All-American awards and with several appearances with the U.S. Under-17 team under her belt, Koons said he thinks Annis can be an outstanding player at the next level.
“Tahnai has that technically ability on her first touch,” Koons said. “Her balance gives her the ability the change direction so quickly, I've seen defenders fall down trying to stay in front of her.”
Annis said she has even more hard work ahead of her, but is optimistic about being a factor in Gainesville right away.
“It all depends on my fitness and how well I do in pre-season,” she said of her prospects for next fall. “If I do well in both of those aspects I can hopefully make an impact.”