March 12, 2012
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By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. - From baseball to figure skating and horseback riding to soccer, Tory McCutcheon tried almost every sport while growing up.
Her UCF coaches and teammates are thrilled that she finally settled on volleyball. The junior recorded 169 kills last year and a team-high .329 attack percentage while helping the Knights to their first 20-win season since 2003.
McCutcheon, a Molecular Biology and Microbiology major, also has excelled in the classroom with a 3.94 GPA.
She became only the second player in UCF volleyball history to earn a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District First Team. She also has earned a spot on the C-USA Academic Honor Roll all three seasons, and she is a three-time recipient of the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal.
"Tory is a remarkably competitive athlete and person," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "That competitiveness comes out in the classroom as much as it does on the volleyball court. She has such a high standard of expectation for herself."
Inspired by their parents, who were professional figure skaters, McCutcheon and her older sister, Alex, began playing sports at a young age. McCutcheon was just three or four when she played on a co-ed soccer team.
"The boys don't pass you the ball, so I got upset and decided to play baseball," she said.
The right-handed first baseman chose baseball over softball because her Milton, Ontario, Canada, hometown had a girls' baseball team but no softball team. She played well and stayed with baseball for seven or eight years. During that time, she also tried and enjoyed several other sports.
"At one point I had three sports going on at once," she said. "I played baseball in the summers, basketball on a boys team for a year, and then we got a girls team, and then volleyball later."
It wasn't until the eighth grade that the 6-foot-2 blocker settled on volleyball. Always wanting to stay active with her sister, the duo played their early years in the sport on the same team.
"We played in school, but I didn't start club until later," McCutcheon said. "My sister started, and her friends were playing and wanted to join a team outside of school. I wanted to do what she did, so the next year I went and tried out."
At her Ontario high school, McCutcheon excelled in volleyball, basketball and softball. She was named the school's senior athlete of the year while earning MVP honors in each of those sports.
She found out about UCF when assistant head coach Michelle Chatman began recruiting her and invited her to visit the campus.
"I said `Sure, why not? It's Florida,' McCutcheon said. "I ended up really liking it."
So far, her time in Orlando has been marked by consistent growth. After making 18 starts as a freshman, McCutcheon has continued to progress over the next two seasons. Her numbers from the middle-blocking position were among the best in Conference USA last year.
After she graduates, McCutcheon wants to take her talents to the medical field.
"I'm thinking medical school," McCutcheon said. "I haven't made up my mind if I want to do it here or back in Canada, but that is where I am headed."