Toria Kover was eight years old when she got her first taste of softball.
And it all happened by chance. Her older sister’s t-ball team needed an extra player, so Toria gladly volunteered herself.
“I hopped in and I fell in love with it. My sister did not — she quit after that year,” said Kover, a recent graduate from Rutland Senior Secondary School.
Fast-forward to 10 years later. Just last month, Kover accepted an offer to attend Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., later this year, where she’ll be playing for the school’s NCAA Division I women’s softball team.
“It’s a surreal experience, really. Just being able to know that I can do this, I’m able to go out and do what I wanted to do when I was eight years old. It’s crazy,” said Kover, who will be working towards achieving a bachelor of science degree in sports and exercise health care.
Earning the opportunity to play for an NCAA Division I school didn’t happen overnight. It took a whole decade for Kover to land this achievement.
From the age of nine up until she was 14, Kover’s father coached her while she was a member of the Kelowna Blue Jays. At 14, she moved up from the C to B program to play for the Kelowna Heat.
From 15 to 17, she played U16B and later U19B — still a member of the Kelowna Heat — where she was coached by Michelle Webster and Jocelyn Cater, with the latter being the youngest player to ever play for Canada’s national softball team.
Following her stint with the Heat, she played for the TriCity Titans before joining the Ridge Meadows Pride softball team.
She said that it was pitching — her greatest asset — that kept her going after all these years. Standing at 5 ft. 3, she said she isn’t the fastest pitcher, and instead described herself as a spin pitcher.
“I was able to keep learning. It’s not just stationary — you have to keep learning new pitches, new spins, all that kind of stuff,” she said.
In her arsenal of pitches are the fastball, the changeup, the curveball, the screwball and the rise up.
But pitching isn’t her favourite part of the game. Rather, she said it’s the camaraderie that comes with it.
“Being a part of a team and being able to know that no matter where I am, I’ll always have people that I can go back to that will help me and want to see me succeed,” she said.
And while she hopes to be involved with softball for the rest of her life, either as a player or a coach, her end goal is to become a travelling physiotherapist for a sports team.
But did she think she would ever get to this point? “Never in a million years,” she said.
“Really, I just owe everything I’ve accomplished to my parents, my family and my awesome coaches, coach Web and Jocelyn,” she said.