From track to softball, Mori to continue playing career in North Carolina

Fallon grad Rachel Mori signs her letter to continue playing softball at William Peace University.

Fallon grad Rachel Mori signs her letter to continue playing softball at William Peace University.

Playing on a national softball team, running track for the first time and finishing her senior year, Rachel Mori had a lot on her plate.

The recent Fallon grad, who also played soccer in the fall, accomplished a lot in the final months of her high school career, including signing her letter to play softball William Peace University, a Division III school in Raleigh, N.C.

“The campus was beautiful, all brick buildings, and so green. The city of Raleigh was so pretty,” Mori said. “But I had to process it for a while, and make sure my heart and head were in the same place. WPU is a smaller school with many different programs, but also has a really cool trade type of system where I can take classes at University of North Carolina for classes they may not offer. I really couldn't ask for more. I am looking at speech pathology, but I know there is so much out there to learn about.”

Mori got a late start to the recruiting process with the pandemic making it more difficult. Playing travel ball in the southern states for Michael Bastian’s TFS National during the pandemic, Mori was able to get better looks from colleges because of the looser restrictions. She received offers from schools in Oregon, Illinois and California and had thought about walking on at Nevada. After realizing none of the offers felt right, Mori received a message from a coach on the East Coast. Coach Charlie Dobbins saw one of her games via a live feed and wanted her to join the WPU team.

“My parents encouraged me to go to North Carolina over spring break to check out WPU,” she said. “I knew it was far away and I didn't plan on committing to a school on the East Coast. As soon as I got there, I knew right away that this was the best choice for me and that I would need to go far from home in order to grow as an individual and learn how to rely on myself. Coach Dobbins was so outgoing and never failed to let me know that I was wanted. I knew that I would have an instant family at a school with a really good academic reputation. Southern hospitality is a real thing and I definitely felt it from Coach Dobbins and the softball players there.”

Mori credits her parents for helping reach her goal to continue playing softball in college. Her father, Louie, who coached Fallon’s wrestling program in the 1990s, pushed her daughter to her highest points because he knew of her potential.

“He is such a hard worker and is never lazy about anything he does in life,” she said. “He never lets anything get in the way of teaching or coaching skills the right way. He taught me that the commitment to the team matters the most, not the individual.”

Her mother, Christine, was just as important.

“My dad is a coach at heart and my mom is always right there with him making sure I always knew my value as a person and not just an athlete. That was always important to her,” said Mori, who also had support from her brothers and grandparents, who tuned into her on the live feed. “My parents supported me in completely different ways, both are brutally honest and without either of them I would not be where I am. They never missed anything. They sacrificed so much time, energy and money for me to be able to get here.”

Mori decided to forgo her final softball season, joining the track team instead to improve her agility and speed, which will help on the college diamond. She kept in softball shape by pitching once a week and hitting on her own twice a week.

“That's the hard part of being part of a team from all over the country, we don't get practice time together. I am really looking forward to that in college,” said Mori, who added that coaches Tammie Shemenski and Steffany Johnson impacted her work ethic and love of softball. “In track, I literally had to learn to run. The workouts themselves were much harder and more intense than softball workouts were so I felt like my body was in better shape. By the end of the season, I could feel that I was running smoother and was more relaxed. It definitely improved my base running speed, and it was so fun to be able to feel that difference. I have a lot to learn about base running and I know track will help me.”

During the soccer season, Fallon was one of the top teams in the 3A East but fell short in the playoffs. The goal, though, was to make the regional tournament, which Fallon had not done during Mori’s career until her final year.

“Our soccer team worked really hard for four years and we wanted to make it to regionals our senior year and we accomplished that,” said Mori, who also played two years on the varsity softball team. “I also wanted to make sure I played sports for the love of the game, and not because I was expected to. Staying focused on that allowed me to grow as an individual and gain confidence in my decisions. Most of all I competed to the best of my ability and supported my teams in all three sports.”

Off the field, Mori is an accomplished ceramicist with her artwork published nationally during her freshman and senior years. She also won three Gold Keys for individual pottery pieces and a Silver Key for her ceramic portfolio. She was named the Churchill Champion for her perseverance and hard work, and she volunteered as a fastpitch coach at the Churchill County Fastpitch Clinic for three years.

“Being successful on the field and in the classroom takes real sacrifice and sometimes that is hard, but it was definitely worth it,” she said. “Being the best on the field sometimes means sacrificing a typical teenage social life and skipping out on of social situations. When you play sports, you always have something to lose so you have to really think about your end goals and what you are willing to do (or not do) to get there.”

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