It seems MTSU sophomore and former Siegel High soccer forward Tori Hawkins is always flying somewhere — either on the pitch, the classroom or up in the sky.
So far, she has proven to be successful at all three. This past week, she made school history by being named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week.
In an 8-0 victory over Alabama A&M on Sept. 20, Hawkins played a key contribution on half of the goals scored by the Blue Raiders that night. She finished with a goal and three assists as MTSU continued its three-match winning streak, which included a 1-0 win over Tennessee on Sept. 13. Her performance earned her the program’s first ever C-USA honor.
“It’s a great stepping stone not only for me, but the entire team is moving forward,” Hawkins said. “We are producing goals, and we are playing well enough together for someone to be named Player of the Week.”
MTSU head coach Aston Rhoden added: “It’s a fantastic honor for her for several reasons. One, she becomes the first person in school history to win a C-USA award. She works extremely hard, not in practice, but outside of practice on her game. She is a player who you will see at the park by herself with 12 balls working on stuff. It’s good to see the work she puts in being recognized.”
Part of the reason she decided to stay in Murfreesboro and play collegiately with the Blue Raiders a couple of years ago was because of the long relationship she has with Rhoden and the chance to play in the front of the same fans who watched her when she was younger.
“I have been seeing that out of Tori since she was 8 years old because I coached her when she was 8,” Rhoden said. “The things she is doing now are things that she knows how to do. She has been doing them all of her life. Now, she is doing it faster and better. Fortunately for her, we’ve got a lot of quality players that recognize her strengths, and that plays toward her strengths.”
So far this season, Hawkins has two goals, four assists and eight points as the Blue Raiders (3-3-2) head into their first season of conference play, which started this weekend with home matches against UAB and Colorado College.
She leads the team in assists and is second in goals and points, and her teammates have taken notice.
“She is a team player, and she works hard always,” junior midfielder Kelsie Roberts said. “She has got soccer on her mind, both on and off the field. She is always trying to find the open gaps, and she is doing what coach Rhoden asks her to do. She is definitely getting the job done.”
While at Siegel from 2008-2012, she earned several awards for one of the top girls soccer programs in the state, including 2012 ESPNHS All-Tennessee All-Star, 2011 NSCAA Scholar All-American and All-South Region Awards.
In 2008, she was the only freshman starter on the Lady Stars TSSAA state championship team. On the club level, she was also a part of four state championship teams.
Growing up, she would practice every day with her father, Bill. Hawkins said those times have helped her become a better player over the years, such as her ability to control the ball well and make the right touch at the right time.
“That comes from playing a wide position starting at a young age growing up,” Hawkins said. “I worked and worked on crosses. I used to go out with my dad every day and hit 100 crosses with my foot. I always know where to go, and I have also played a lot on club teams, growing up with very good players around me. They helped me see my way through.”
Hawkins has also proven herself in the classroom.
During her senior year at Siegel, the class valedictorian was also a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club. She also served on the Student Council all four years in high school.
Currently, she is majoring in aerospace and aviation engineering. Hawkins said she fell in love with flying when she was a child, thanks to her grandfather who was a jet engineer after World War II.
“We used to talk about planes all of the time,” she said. “I watched so many air shows, including the Blue Angels. I love planes and engines. (School is) going pretty well, and I enjoy every minute of it. I am working on my private pilot license right now, and I am up there occasionally. It’s a dream come true. The first time I went up, I never wanted to come down.”
It does not matter if Hawkins is kicking soccer balls in the air or flying up into the sky. Either way, she hopes to continue her success in the future and help lead the Blue Raiders to the C-USA title this season.