AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)- Tori Christ is 5’3’’, and ambitious. She stands approximately 5 inches shorter than the average women’s soccer goalkeeper, but that has not stopped her from realizing her dream.
On April 2, Christ signed a contract with Vasteras BK30, a professional soccer team in Sweden.
“I don’t even believe that it’s real yet. You work your whole life for something, and then to see it happen is just amazing”, said Christ about signing the contract.
News 4 has interviewed Christ before. She was a News 4 Scholar Athlete in October, 2009, which was right after her last season manning the goalposts at Nardin Academy in Buffalo.
“It was after my senior season of high school and it was just an honor to be recognized in the Western New York area”, explained Christ.
Christ first started playing soccer when she was 4 years old, and instantly fell in love with the game. Besides her high school team, she also played on Canadian Club teams and in the ODP Northwest, which is the Olympic Development Program. She said of the ODP, “Ultimately if you stay involved in that, it’s how you end up with the Women’s National Team if you can stay involved in the system”.
However, Christ didn’t have her sights set on the Women’s National Team, she always wanted to go pro. After Cornell, she played with the Boston Breakers professional women’s team during the pre-season, but was never signed to a contract.
“That was my first time training in a real, professional environment. I got a taste of the dedication and passion from the players and I just realized, that’s what I want someday, if I can work so hard to get to that point it would really be a dream come true”, said Christ.
In order to realize her dream, she knew she would have to impress some coaches, but she says that has always been challenging if they don’t take the time to get to know her. Many coaches only see her height, and not her heart.
“I’ve definitely heard a lot of ‘no’s’ in my life, you know I’m not a tall goalkeeper, which is usually what they look for. That’s been the biggest obstacle, because no matter how good I am, I would say my technical ability is a strong suit in my game, and there are so many intangible things that if you don’t get to know me, you might not see it”, said Christ about her experience trying out for professional teams.
Her leadership is one of her strengths, which makes perfect sense for a goalkeeper.
Christ explained, “A goalkeeper is a leadership position, because you can see everything. You’re kind of like the quarterback. They say the best goalkeepers only face two or three shots a game, because they’re really good at organizing and communicating”.
So how did Christ decide she wanted to make soccer her life? She says a contest at Dick’s Sporting Goods helped move things along. She put her name into a plastic jug, and won a trip to the Sydney Olympics in the summer of 2000.
“We got to see so many different events, and the one that I was crazy about was women’s soccer. Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, the 99’ers that everyone talks about that really brought soccer to the forefront for women as a whole and the United States. Briana Scurry was the goalkeeper at the time, and I would have loved to imagine myself being in her position”, declared Christ.
As far as a future on an Olympic team goes, Christ says we’ll have to stay tuned. For now, she’s starting practice with her new team. She is contracted as the starting goalkeeper and hopes to be a part of furthering the program. Vasteras BK30 is currently in the second division. The team finished 3rd in the league last year, and the goal is to do well enough this season to make it in the first division. Christ may not be from Sweden, but she’ll have some dedicated fans cheering her along the way, including her mom, Betty Murphy.
“If you put the camera on her during a game, she’s holding people’s hands, she’s on the edge of her seat, screaming, yelling and nervous probably more than she’s watching the game”, said Christ about Murphy, who is already planning a trip to Sweden. Murphy has been to more of Christ’s games than she can count, but this will be the first time she sees her play in Europe, as a pro.
You might say tending goal is in the genes. Tori Christ’s father, Phil Christ, was a hockey goalie, and she says he’s very proud that she’s carrying on the tradition.
Vasteras BK30 is a professional women’s soccer league located in the town of Vasteras, Sweden, approximately 30 minutes outside of Stockholm. The team is challenging to advance to the highest women’s division, where they can also compete in the UEFA women’s champions league. The season runs from the middle of April to the end of October. Christ will play her first game with the team on Saturday, April 18 in Vasteras.