School ‘Pride’: Alumna inspires soccer team

David Thompson, Sports Editor

Feelings of nostalgia rushed through West Shore alumna and professional athlete Toni Pressley, as she walked through the hallways she had gotten to know so well throughout her six years at the school.

“All the times we made it to districts, regionals, beating MCC and being the district champ for the first time,” said Pressley, who graduated in 2008. “Those were great memories for me.”

Although soccer played a huge role in Pressley’s high school career, many of her recollections stretch beyond the goalline.

“When I was in eighth grade, I pulled the emergency shower in the science lab and I got suspended,” Pressley said. “I made a lot of connections with teachers and staff, and I made really good friends here. Some of my favorite teachers were [Kirk] Murphy and [Tony] Riopelle.”

Since her high school graduation, Pressley has bounced around professionally from team to team after she attended Florida State University. She has just returned to Florida after playing as far away as Russia. Now a member of  her eighth professional team, the Orlando Pride (the female counterpart to the Orlando City Lions) Pressley said she is excited to be back.

“I am very happy [to play for the Orlando Pride] and to be back home and be close to my family,” Pressley said. “I think I have a few years left in me and I think hopefully I might go back overseas one day.”

Pressley visited the school as an honorary captain for the girls’ soccer senior night Jan. 7, and took time to speak with the varsity team. Seniors Erica Lobmeyer and Hannah Jefferson said it was an exciting opportunity to meet her.

“It was really cool to meet her and talk to her about her soccer career and her time at West Shore,” Lobmeyer said. “She is going to play at Orlando Pride with Alex Morgan, who is one of the most influential women’s soccer players right now. It is just really cool to think that someone from a small school can make it big athletically.”

Jefferson said the fact she was an alumna was motivational.

“It’s inspiring to see that she went to this tiny school, like I am, and now she’s in the professional league,” Jefferson said. “This doesn’t happen often and it just shows that dedication and passion can overcome anything.”

Pressley has represented the United States on various youth national youth teams including the under-17, under-18, under-20, and under-23 teams.

Even with her bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University, Pressley’s future after soccer is still not clear.

“As of now I don’t really have any plans after soccer,” she said. “But hopefully I’ll figure that out soon.”

Freshman Avery Kloeppel said Pressley’s visit was a memorable experience.

“She shows us that it’s not impossible to be a professional soccer player as long as you go out and work you hardest for it,” Kloeppel said. “It was very motivational.”