NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2019 season was something Myra Konte never expected, an experience she now looks back as the toughest in her career.
On Sept. 15, 2019, in Louisville, Kentucky, Konte’s junior season ended in one extremely painful moment. A torn ACL meant the defender would – for the first time in her life – be forced off the soccer field.
“Soccer is one of the things I love the most and I could not imagine not playing again,” Konte said. “I wanted to touch a ball again, I wanted to play soccer again with my teammates. If I didn’t come back this year that would have been the last year of playing with the senior class and that is something I could not imagine.
“I’ve never been removed from the game like that – or from people. I just felt so separated and isolated and that was the thing I struggled with the most, just feeling so separated from everybody.”
Konte was driven to return in 2020 – and Vanderbilt (4-4) is thankful she did. The Virginian has played 468 minutes over six games, scored two goals and been an anchor of the Vandy defense.
The Commodores and Konte begin the postseason at noon Sunday against Mississippi State at the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama.
“I know as a team we definitely want to leave our mark this upcoming week,” Konte said. “We have a lot to learn from these past couple of games and we just want to move forward and show that we’re capable of winning the SEC and making a name for ourselves.”
Konte came to Nashville from Woodbridge, Virginia, where she attended Osbourn Park High School and starred for club team Braddoack Road Youth Club. In 2016 she was invited to the U.S. U-18 National Soccer Team camp.
The 2017 season saw Konte burst onto the scene as a true freshman when she played in 22 matches, was an SEC All-Freshman and All-Tournament team selection and totaled 1,754 minutes played.
Sunday will be Konte’s 56th game as a Commodore.
“I have definitely learned a lot like I think anyone would,” Konte said about her time on West End. “I was very naive, didn’t know what to expect, just going through the motions. Did not know anything about my future.
“Then I came here and met all these people. I found out so much more about myself, became more passionate about the game, learned how to be a leader on this team. I could not have done that without coming here.”
Off the field, Konte is a medicine, health and society major and has aspirations of going into the nursing field – only after her pursuit of professional soccer is over, of course. Family life before Nashville included growing up in the middle of two older siblings and two younger siblings.
Younger sister Jada Konte is a freshman for the Connecticut soccer team and older sister Ramona Konte played for Marymount in Arlington, Virginia. Myra said her bond with Ramona stands out the most and that her older sister would likely be surprised if she knew how much of a positive influence she’s been on her younger sibling down in Tennessee.
That home environment and that relationship with her siblings helped shaped who Konte would become all these years later.
“There was never a dull moment in the house,” Konte said. “It was loud probably 24/7. Honestly crazy. A lot of things would happen. We’re pretty spread apart – but the house was always full.”
Two of Konte’s three career goals have come during this season, including the game-winner Oct. 18 in overtime at Florida. Those memories will stand out when all is said and done, although Konte said she’ll cherish the time when she was on the sideline in 2019 and got to watch her teammates celebrate a division title.
She would have loved nothing more to be in that victory dog pile then. She has a chance to help make another happen now.
“It’s one of our last moments as a team together. It’s going to be fun for us,” Konte said going into this week. “SEC Tournament, that’s always something to enjoy. I think the whole team is really excited – and so am I.”
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.