CHESHIRE -- When most high school athletes make the choice Tori Rumbolt did last fall, they don’t realize their mistake until it’s too late. Rumbolt did and corrected it.
Entering her junior year, Rumbolt decided to not play soccer. She played basketball and softball.
Entering her senior year, Rumbolt again decided to not play soccer. But this time, she realized she’d made a mistake.
"Coming into my senior year, I feel very happy that I did play soccer," she said following Tuesday’s 7-1 win over Lee. "Just coming back my senior year is like, ‘why didn’t I play last year?’ I asked myself that, ‘why didn’t I play?’ It’s just such a good feeling to be back on the field, back with everybody."
Just past the mid way point of September, she approached coach Blair Mahar about re-joining the Hurricanes. She hadn’t played since fall 2010.
"She’s like, coach, I feel bad about not playing. I miss it, big mistake," Mahar recalled. "I said well tomorrow’s the last day to sign up for sports. You can still play if you want. If you want it bad enough, you can."
Mahar was under the impression an athlete needed 10 practices before being allowed to compete. Practice requirements apply to only football and wrestling, which he said he found out after the fact. It didn’t matter. Mahar knew adding someone to a close-knit team several weeks into the season comes with its pitfalls.
"I held her out until I was OK with her, until her family was OK with her, until the team was OK with her," Mahar said. "She skipped tryouts, so I wanted the team to be OK with her. Everyone had to be OK with playing Tori and the team was like let’s play Tori, coach, let’s play Tori. So we’ve been playing her."
Rumbolt was worried how and if the team would welcome her back after missing more than a full season. That worry is long gone.
"Coming back, I feel so welcomed and so close to everyone all ready and I’ve only been back two weeks," she said. "I just feel like a family with everybody. We all play like a family, too."
Her first game back was a road match against Monument Mountain on Sept. 27. She didn’t factor into the scoring or even in her second game, which was at home Tuesday against Lee, but she’s having an impact in ways not so easily seen.
Danielle Beauchemin, one of three captains, was the lone senior on the team before Rumbolt returned. The other two are juniors Megan Rodo wicz and Courtney Hayer.
"There’s a lot of young girls on the team and having Tori come back, it just helps with showing them and giving them examples of how to play and give them the tough mentality they need," Rodowicz said.
Rumbolt played outside fullback her freshman and sophomore years, but has been moved to center midfielder -- which caught her off-guard -- in the absence of Alyssa Bush, who suffered a torn CAL in the season opener at Drury on Sept. 10.
The injury forced Mahar to bring up a couple players from the junior varsity because he had just 13 on the opening-day roster. He still has only three or four reserves, but Rumbolt has given him options.
"Girls are stepping up, that’s always been our play," Mahar said. "Girls on this team always step up when there’s a need to be filled, that’s just how we do things.
"I wasn’t worried about missing anything with Alyssa [gone], but Tori just gives me more options now."