The same calm demeanor that Tori Thompson has often displayed on the basketball court and track surfaced again Monday.
As Thompson, surrounded by friends and family, signed her national letter-of-intent to run track and cross county at Belmont Abbey College, she occasionally flashed a smile, but largely kept quiet as those around her celebrated her accomplishment.
But a mention of the phrase “Tori Thompson, college athlete” got a slightly wider smile, perhaps not surprisingly.
“It means a lot. It’s something I’ve wanted to hear all my life,” Thompson said. “Since I was little, I wanted to grow up and play in college at whatever sport that would be.
“So it’s very significant to me.”
Polk County head track and field coach Alan Peoples referred to Thompson and teammate Olivia Overholt, who signed with Lenoir-Rhyne during Monday’s ceremony in Polk County’s auditorium, as “the picture of hard work.” Thompson certainly earned her shot at continuing her athletic career.
As a Wolverine, Thompson took part in multiple sports. She earned all-conference honors last fall for Polk County’s cross country program, finishing seventh at the Mountain Foothills 7 Conference meet, and was part of the Wolverines’ state qualifying team in 2019.
Thompson reached the 1A state outdoor track and field championships last spring, placing eighth in the pole vault. On Saturday, she, Overholt, Lindsey Jenkins and Karsyn Huskey ran the fastest 4×400-meter relay by any 2A team in the state this spring, narrowly missing a 31-year-old school record.
Also an all-conference performer in basketball, Thompson briefly considered a college career in that sport – at least until her recruiting visit to Belmont Abbey.
“There were a few places I could have gone for basketball and another few places I could have gone for track,” she said. “But at Belmont Abbey, I felt like I was home. I was ready to commit during the visit.
“I really liked the environment and coaching staff. When I went there, they treated me like I was a five-star recruit. It was amazing and super nice.”
The Crusaders’ coaching staff has indicated to Thompson that she could compete in the 800 meters, pole vault and/or javelin during track season. Whatever the events prove to be, Thompson is ready to take the same calm approach and get to work.
“I’m glad to see all my friends and family out here supporting both me and Olivia in our decisions and our future,” she said. “I’m excited for whatever is to come.”