Nov. 22, 2006
FSU Sports Information
It's odd to hear someone from
"I was caught by surprise how different life was at FSU when I started school," remembers Toby. "It is different coming for a weekend and visiting. I came on my recruiting trip and remember thinking it is a great school, a great campus and a great team. I was really excited to come. Then I got here and it was overwhelming. There are so many people and so much going on. It is a good thing but it took me by surprise."
It didn't just take Toby by surprise, it unsettled her. After graduating from a high school whose senior class numbered just 250, Toby was now in a single class nearly that size. Like many freshman she was far from home, felling out of place and generally unsure of how to handle the transition.
"My team and everyone in the athletic department really helped me early on. It is a family," said Toby. "From the second you come to FSU you are part of this family. They just welcomed me in. I didn't have to prove anything to anyone or do anything special. They just are special people who welcome you with open arms. They took care of me from every aspect. I knew there was someone there for me no matter what I needed help with. That makes this school so special.
"I can't even imagine how hard it would have been had I not had the athletic department's support when I first came to school. I know that my freshman year I was kind of a mess. In high school it was so much easier. In college you are far away from home and need to be on top of so many different things. It was very difficult. There were so many situations someone from the team came to my rescue. Some of the time I wouldn't even have to say anything and they knew I needed a helping hand. From the athletic department, to my teammates, to the coaching staff, there was a great support system in place."
Toby's adjustment went well beyond the size of her classes and the amount of people on campus, which was roughly 24 times the size of her hometown. She was now in a diverse environment that she wasn't accustomed to as well.
"Coming from a small suburb,
Toby didn't just have her eyes opened by the diversity she experienced at
"I have been taking French since I was little. I started taking it in college and realized it was pretty cool," said Toby. "I was always impressed with the international players who came to our team and could speak English. It made me want to try and learn a new language myself. Not just the language either but learn about other cultures. I saw how much our international players were growing from coming to
Yup, the girl who was intimidated by the size of
"It was like being on a different planet," said Toby. "You always hear about how different Europe is from
Not only did Toby experience how different France is from America she got to experience what it is like to be a stranger in someone else's country. Something her teammates from
"I learned how lonely you can get in a country where you don't speak the language. Not being able to communicate and not feeling like you understand what is going on around you is hard. It made me a stronger person. It also gave me so much respect for people who speak more than one language and can absorb themselves in other cultures. Being in
Even though she had spent years in French classes she learned there is a big difference from studying a language out of a text book and being able to function in that society. Looking back on her struggles with the language in its practical implications makes her chuckle now, but it wasn't so funny in
"Trying to communicate was tough. I went there thinking I knew so much but I realized how little I knew," she recalls. "It was shocking. There were things that happened that seem hilarious to me now but at the time were terrible. Once I got adjusted it was an amazing experience. It was unbelievable to see all these places that I have only read about."
While Toby was spending her six weeks immersed in French culture, she even learned she had trouble relating to something she had been doing even longer than taking French lessons and that was soccer. Toby had the ultimate thrill of being in
That brings Toby's story back to where it all began, with soccer. It was the reason she was in
Ranck and eight of her current teammates had to adjust to a coaching change in the middle of their playing careers. After her sophomore season, Patrick Baker left
"When we found out coach Baker was leaving it sent our soccer lives into disarray. I came here because coach Baker recruited me and I knew he wanted me to be a part of this program. Then you realize he is gone and there is a new person coming in."
After she had finally adjusted to college less than two years into her playing career she had to adjust to a new coach. As with all her teammates, Toby was filled with doubt on how her athletic future would turn out.
"I thought we might get a coach that didn't care as much about us as people. Maybe he wouldn't be as good. Maybe the team wouldn't continue to be successful. Would we still get great recruits? So many things go through your head."
All those things that were going through Toby's head ended when she found out Mark Krikorian was taking over the program. The former head coach of the WUSA's Philadelphia Charge was a familiar name since he had coached in Toby's backyard.
"When I found out Mark was coming I knew about him because he coached the Philadelphia Charge in the WUSA near my hometown. I heard so many good things about him so I was very excited. I knew he was going to be an elite level coach."
With an elite level coach came demands for Toby to raise her game up a level. Everything she had experienced, learned and adjusted to in her first few years at Florida State made the next transition for her that much easier,
"In the beginning it was tough because the way I was playing the past 10 years was going to have to change," she remembers. "Mark wanted me to play a different way. It has turned out to be a great thing. Although I thought it would be negative at first, it has helped me develop into a player that I never thought I could become.
"Mark has helped me so much as a player. He has shown me how much room there still is for me to improve. He has pushed me to improve off the field as well. I am more organized because of him. He is so structured and he believes in his players being elite on and off the field. That has been a great thing. I realize I have so much more to go but that is exciting."
Toby's reaction to the challenges her new head coach put in front of her sum up just how much she has grown at
"The reason I came to FSU was for soccer. When I leave I will have so much more than that. Soccer is important in my life. I have such a love for the game. I am lucky to be a part of such an amazing program. It has helped me grow so much as a player but being at
"This experience at FSU has made me stronger and more independent. The relationships and the competitive environment of our soccer program have taught me things that will carry into the workplace and into every phase of my life. I will leave here having priorities and discipline. I interact better with people. I feel lucky."
That feeling is something Toby wants to share with others. While she still isn't sure what specific area she wants to pursue once school has ended don't mistake that with not knowing what she wants to do with her life. She has never been surer of anything.
"When I went to