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Answering the big if (or I.F.) questions for young female athletes.


In the last 6 years coaching we have come to see one major problem in female athletes…


They have no idea who they are.


Because of this, they have a lot of questions about themselves and how to work with their teammates, coaches, parents, and teachers. So that is why we created Identify First (IF). Our hope with IF is that by meeting with female athletes, they will learn and believe that their identity is not created in sport. That they are far more valuable than whatever ability they can bring to the sports arena.

We deeply desire to help athletes better connect with their coaches, parents, and teammates. The pressure kids are experiencing in sports today is at an all time high. This pressure is something that will help shape them into healthy adults, or can create a debilitating mindset going into adulthood... Read More





Athlete | Coach | Professor


  • B.S. Kinesiology Sports Medicine

  • M.S. Kinesiology Excercise Science


  • 10 Years in Junior Athletics

  • 5 Years in College Athletics

  • 14 Years of Youth Coaching Experience

Hi, I’m Tori! Most of my life has been spent playing sports. I played junior sports from the time I was 8 through high school and then played 5 years of collegiate volleyball, I have always been a competitive athlete. After receiving my Masters I decided to go into coaching full time and became a part time college professor. 


Mental performance was something I had to hone in from a very early age. When I was 12, my mom became very ill and was bedridden for almost two years, leaving my dad to support the family on a single income. From sixth to eighth grade I not only became a student athlete with an already difficult schedule, but started to assist in being a homemaker. I learned to cook, clean, take care of the house, help my siblings with their homework, organize rides for school and sports practices, feed and help care for my mom, and also picked up a job to help pay for my club volleyball fees. Once I hit high school my mother started to recover, but as luck would have it I broke my L5 vertebrae and spent the next year in a back brace and doing physical therapy. As I was sitting in PT I began to recognize the mental toll life and sports was having on me. I was very serious about pursuing college volleyball and knew once I was cleared to play I would have to put in the extra training hours. This is also when I began coaching young kids, with the hope I would continue to understand the game better. Between these extra hours of training and PT, I also picked up a second job to help cover the costs. Thankfully, as a result of this long grind I was recruited to go to Long Beach State University for beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. A dream come true!


My mental health took a huge downturn my freshman year of college due to a handful of things but the biggest issue was the athletic environment. Between my underdeveloped mental fortitude, and an abusive coach, I could not handle the environment. It was just too much. I quit. I had hit my rock bottom. I felt a lot of shame and anger over where I was at mentally. My confidence was gone, I had no belief left in the tank, and my love for the sport was gone. It wasn’t until I started working with FCA Volleyball that summer of 2013 that I had a mentor who poured into my life and helped me rediscover my love of the game. That fall I transferred to California Baptist University to continue playing volleyball. While at CBU I went to therapy for four years working specifically on my mental health, and ability to deal with stress on and off the court. It was at CBU that I came to learn many things about myself athletically and personally, but the most important thing that I learned was who I was; and it actually had nothing to do with being an athlete. When I realized what my identity was and who I wanted to be as a person first, and then an athlete second, it was then that I was able to slowly build back my confidence. 


In 2015 my husband and I got married while we were both still playing college volleyball. And like any other poor young couple who doesn’t have any furniture we found ourselves sitting on the floor of our living room each night chatting about our day. This particular day in June of 2015 we were setting a volleyball back and forth and my husband brought up creating a beach volleyball club. I told him I wasn’t sure, mostly because I didn’t want to fail. However, he told me that we should try it. It would be a fun way to coach kids, teach the sport we love, and spend time together, and so we did. Fast forward 8 years and we are still running that beach volleyball club. I love kids and have a huge heart for not only teaching the sport, but also modeling a culture of excellence. One where kids and parents feel valued, listened to, and cared for. In my time coaching I have had the pleasure of working with many different athletes and families. Over the years I have had countless conversations with parents and their athletes about mental health and how it impacts our performance and life. I have come to learn that young girls in any sport deal with one major factor, they have no idea who they are. Because of this they tend to place their identity within their sport of choice. They have a very hard time separating fact from emotion, building confidence, and knowing that their value has nothing to do with a sport they play or the points on a scoreboard. This is why I have created Identity First. In my past 14 years of coaching junior athletics this has been the resounding theme for young girls. Identity. I believe if a young girl can establish their identity first, and understand their value is not in sports, then there is freedom to be experienced in every area of life. So, that’s what I do. I meet with junior athletes one on one and we talk. I help them use tools to not only establish their identity but to address other issues that are taking a toll on their mental performance. 


At the end of the day the most important thing to me as a coach is that every young female athlete I speak with comes away from our sessions having a better understanding of who they are. I believe if they know who they are it will change not only the way they see the world, interact with their families, coaches, teammates, teachers, and friends, but also how they see themselves. I have a real heart for young women and the many battles we face through life and sports. It is my hope to help any young woman who meets with me know their Identity and in turn live their Identity. When this is done well, athletes unlock an ability to perform in ways they have never experienced before. This is because the performance is not a show for everyone else. It’s an outward expression of their love for their sport. Done with excellence, humility, confidence, and a worthiness that only comes from knowing their Identity First.


“I think for all athletes a major factor in their overall performance comes from the mental side. I had a really hard time with comparison and confidence in my sport, but finding ways to help overcome negative thoughts had not just an impact on my game, but my life as a whole. Being able to break down these thoughts to better understand why I am thinking them and then shining the truth into them is something that has been a huge help for me. From being able to talk things through to finding phrases to help me push through battles, the skills I have taken from my meetings have had lasting effects.”

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