DOBSON — Surry Central volleyball player Tori Blevins has picked N.C. Wesleyan College.
Tori was an outside hitter, playing on both the right and left sides of the net for the Lady Eagles the past two seasons.
A true scholar-athlete, Tori was inducted into the the National Honor Society, as well as the honor societies for science, technical and music (Tri-M).
Tori sang soprano in the school chorus and was president of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America).
Tori said she initially had been considering a career in nursing, but during her studies she has taken a strong interest in psychology.
She said she would like to pursue this course of study and possibly become a child psychologist one day.
“I am very proud of her. Her dad and I were very proud of her,” said mom Lisa as her voice wavered with emotion.
“It’s been a tough year with losing him in January,” she said.
Victor Blevins, an avid outdoorsman, died from an accident while working outside the house. Vic, 54, had been married to Lisa for 21 years. They had three children: Tori, Tanner and Tara.
“I know it’s been especially hard for them,” Lisa said of the children. “But they continued to succeed and set their goals and have not let these struggles get them down.”
“Vic was very proud of them and always encouraged them to continue and follow their dreams, and I think that’s what she’s doing now,” said Lisa.
Central head coach Carrie Hutchens said she and her staff were blessed to have known Vic and the rest of Tori’s family. Hutchens said she knows it will be hard for Tori Friday night to accept her high school diploma without her father there watching.
Despite all of her own grieving, Tori said she felt like she had to step up the past few months and take on more a mentoring role at home for her younger siblings.
The volleyball team has been like a second family to Tori, and she was looking for a similar dynamic when choosing a school.
When she made the three-hour drive to Wesleyan, Tori took lunch with the volleyball team and coaches.
Everyone was just great to her, she said.
“I loved those girls. They were very fun. It was kind of like being here,” she said, referencing Surry Central. “I could pick out that some of the personalities were almost the same.”
Lisa said she likes the small class sizes. And for classes specific to her major, Tori will have even smaller classes.
“It was a beautiful campus,” Tori added. “I loved it.”
Being on a team with all-conference performers Cassidy Joyner and Kendra Johnson can make it hard for others to stand out. How did Wesleyan find out about Tori?
“They found me at a showcase tournament in Charlotte,” she said.
Rather than simply playing games, the event held drills that each player performed so that college scouts could watch.
Tori said she got information about the event from her Junior Olympics coach.
“It went really well,” she said of her performance. “I’m an outside and a right-side hitter, so it was mostly hitting drills. And of course they make everybody pass.”
Tori said she loves everything about playing at the net, except taking swings in the middle of the net.
“The angles are really different. With the outside and right-side, you have the exact same angles, they are just opposite,” she described.
“With the middle, you do have a few more options, but middles are typically 6-foot-4 or something, and I’m not. So when that block goes up, it’s very big and hard to get around.”
Like North Surry, if Tori was hitting in the middle, she was going up against Malaya Johnson at 6-foot-2; or she could be hitting on the right side, going against 5-foot-5 Morgan Hawks or Alex Cooke.
When Tori was a freshman, the volleyball coach was Leah McKinney. Then Tim Shelton ran the team for a year before Carrie Hutchens took over
“Coach Hutchens came along my junior year, and she really changed things up,” she said. “I really like her, she’s a great coach.”
Tori said she was really proud of all her team accomplished over the past two seasons, especially her junior year when the Lady Eagles had a six-match winning streak. The team finished 17-7, with three of those losses to conference champion North Surry.
“Tori is very coachable, great personality and we will definitely miss her,” said Hutchens. “She was the extra piece that filled the mold of the team. She was always there, did whatever was asked of her. She will be a great addition to her college team.”
Volleyball has been a constant in Tori’s time in high school, playing all four years.
She played softball for her first three years before trying her hand at soccer goalie this spring. She also swam for two seasons.
In her free time, Tori has played on a travel team since she was 12.
She played for the Surry Storm until this past year when the Storm didn’t have an 18-and-under team. She and Kendra Johnson went to Statesville to join a new travel team, Crossroads.
If she thought she traveled a lot with Surry Storm, Tori will surpass all those miles combined with one trip next winter.
“Her volleyball team at Wesleyan is going to be playing in Barcelona in January,” said Lisa.
The team will play at least three games but also have plenty of time to tour the city and take in the culture on a trip lasting Jan. 6-14.
Her coaches always told her sports could take her far in life — and now it will take her six time zones away.