Leesburg, Va. — Tori Gillis grew up watching her older sisters play soccer. Both Gabby and Sabrina earned all-state honors in high school and then went on to play at Christopher Newport University, where Gabby became the first player in program history to become a first team All-American.
Rather than follow in the footsteps of her sisters, Tori decided to pave a different path. Just a junior, the Loudoun County High School defensive midfielder plans to take her talents to Baton Rouge where she’ll don the regal purple and gold at Louisiana State University.
“I never thought I would be going so far from my hometown, but I loved all the players, coaches, and their amazing facilities,” the youngest Gillis sister said. “I think LSU is the perfect spot for me to continue soccer and enjoy the next chapter of my life. I’m super excited to be a future Tiger.”
After winning the program’s first SEC tournament championship in 2018, the young Division I Tigers struggled to get going in 2019. With first-year head coach Sian Hudson taking the reins in 2020, LSU looks to get back on track, returning all but two starters this fall.
“Nothing is certain, but I know that I’m going to have to put in a lot of work in order to get to where I want to be and achieve my goals,” the 5-foot-8 Gillis said. “I hope to be a contributor to the team on and off the field, and I also want to help others grow and continue to get better.”
Gillis had plans to contribute to the Loudoun County girls soccer team this spring. After playing strictly club during her first two years in high school, Gillis joined the storied Raiders program during the 2020 season.
“I loved what we had gotten to play so far. Everyone is very fun to be around and to play with,” said Gillis, who plays club soccer for BRYC ECNL Elite Academy. “I’m very disappointed and upset that we weren’t able to play this season due to the circumstances. I think that our team has so much potential moving forward with so many great players. Loudoun County soccer is a great program, and I’m so happy to finally be a part of it.”
The Raiders girls soccer program has been a force in Loudoun County for the past decade, playing in four of the last five VHSL State championship games, bringing three state titles back to Leesburg. Led by head coach Olivia Mackey, the Raiders were primed to have a tremendous 2020 season, led by seniors Devon Balac, Brinley Bell, and Brooke Kirstein along with Gillis. Unfortunately, their season ended before it even started due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Not being out on the field is tough for most student-athletes, especially Gillis who’s been playing the sport she loves since she was just three years old.
“I started playing soccer at a very young age, because my sisters were both playing, and I wouldn’t stop bothering my mom to sign me up to play as well. Ever since I have completely loved the game and have dedicated a lot of my life to it,” Gillis said. “Soccer has definitely built a huge part of my character and has made me who I am today.”