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Tori Paul has already accomplished more than the average high school senior.

The Olympic High and Charlotte Independence Soccer Club striker is heading to play collegiately at Maryland, but she played for Trinidad and Tobago senior women’s national team in the Olympic qualifiers last fall.

“My first call up was last year,” she said. “I went to Trinidad during the summer for training camp. My first tournament was in September and October. I traveled to Trinidad to play with the senior national team in the Olympic qualifiers. It was breathtaking.”

Paul also received an under-20 national team call up for the Concacaf Championship tournament in February, which caused her to miss high school tryouts.

“At preseason training and at tryouts, Tori wasn’t here because she was playing with Trinidad and Tobago,” Olympic head coach Matthew Merrill said. “I would tell all the girls, ‘this is our senior class. When we pick a team, we’ll have to pick captains.’ As things progressed I would say, ‘don’t forget, there’s a girl who is not with us right now. She’s playing for Trinidad and Tobago.’ When Tori did arrive, it made them aspire to have their own dreams [of playing at a higher level], because there’s someone they’re playing with who has done that.”

Because girls’ soccer is a spring sport in North Carolina, COVID-19 eliminated Paul’s senior season. However, she left her mark on the program with the second-most goals in Olympic history, scoring 51 as a sophomore. That season, she was also all-state and SoMeck 4A player of the year. In addition to earning team MVP on offense each season, Paul also earned all-conference and all-region.

“She was a No. 9 or a No. 10 [attacking positions] depending on what we needed, but very deadly at that position,” Merrill said.

Paul’s love for the game was influenced by her older brother Troy, who will be a junior at Newberry, as well as her father, Romano. He grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, playing for the under-17 national team, but moved to the United States to play at Virginia Commonwealth. She grew up playing for a club in Steele Creek, now called Carolina Rush before joining the Carolina Rapids, now known as the Independence. Playing for the smaller club for 12 years meant competing on a boys’ team that met her skill level.

“It’s like I was born to play,” Paul said.

Paul follows Arsenal in the English Premier League, along with the rest of her family. She attended last summer’s International Champion’s Cup Match at Bank of America Stadium when Arsenal played Fiorentina of Italy’s Serie A.

Paul plans to studying kinesiology at Maryland. While she dreams of playing professionally in Europe or Australia, she also plans to attend nursing school at some point.

“If I go pro, I’ll be able use my degree and open up my own training facility,” she said.


SOURCE: The Charlotte Post