Sept. 5, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
In the three years prior to the arrival of Florida State’s junior class, the Seminoles had won a total of 24 games and lost in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament three times.
In the two years since their arrival, the Seminoles have won 29 games, played in the ACC Tournament championship game and played in the NCAA Tournament twice, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2000.
“All this class has known is national rankings, NCAA Tournaments and at least making the ACC Tournament semifinal,” said Seminole head coach Patrick Baker shortly before the beginning of the 2002 season. “They are the most successful group of players we have had here at Florida State.”
The four members of the Seminoles’ junior class – Kristin Boyce, Summer Corum, Tori George and Amber Tollefson came to Florida State for many different reasons but all with similar individual and team goals in mind. The fact that all four have had to redefine their initial individual and teams goals because of the Seminoles’ overwhelming success is a success story within itself.
All four players came to Florida State with the highest of credentials. Boyce has been a member of the Region III Olympic Development program since 1997 and was an all-state first-team selection in Texas as a senior in high school. Corum has been a member of the Region III team since 1997 and played in the Florida All-Star game as a senior. George is a member of the ODP team in the state of Virginia and she earned all-district honors her final two years in high school. Tollefson has also been a member of the Region III ODP team during the last four years and helped Spanish River High School win two state championships.
Baker became Florida State’s second head coach on Christmas Eve in 1998. He immediately set a course to put Seminole soccer on par with the nation’s best programs. He not only wanted to compete against North Carolina, Santa Clara, Portland and Florida, but he wanted to beat those established powers. Not a patient man, Baker hit the recruiting road immediately.
Baker amazed the soccer world as he put together a top recruiting class (the current Seminole seniors) on such short notice during the spring of 1999. The class includes the No. 2 all-time leading scorer in school history (Cindy Schofield), a defender who has started 43 games (Ashlee Fontes), a current team captain (Jenny Garcia), a key player on three of the stingiest defensive units in school history (Meredith Jones) and a strong and resilient midfielder (Katie Talley).
Baker was only getting started. The rest of the nation would soon see what Baker could do on the recruiting trails when his evaluations became more complete, his relationships were given the time to develop and he was able to turn over every stone he could find to bring the nation’s top talent to Tallahassee. He quickly signed the first ever top-15 recruiting class in Florida State women’s soccer history when the 2000 class was ranked 12th by SoccerBuzz.
“What we were looking to do was find the best players possible who fit into our system and can help us reach the goal of winning a national championship,” said Baker.
Baker went to work and identified many players who could help Florida State contend for a national championship. He turned his attention to Tollefson who was one of the top players in the state of Florida and one of the rising stars on the national ODP scene.
“I told Amber during the recruiting process that ‘people are going to know where you come to school,” said Baker. “If you come to Florida State you can help change not only the complexion of our team but of our program,’ Baker continued. “That has rung true ever since she verbally committed to us.”
“I had faith in what coach Baker was going to do here,” said Tollefson. “He wanted to change this program and take it to a higher level. He was why I took a leap of faith to come to Florida State. He stepped up the mentality of this program in every way and helped instill a new mentality into all of the players in the program. My freshman season was magical for all of the players.”
The 2000 season was magical as the Seminoles won a then school-record 14 games, advanced to the ACC Tournament semifinals and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. During that season, the team earned its first ever national ranking defeating Florida and National Champion North Carolina for the first time in school history. In the NCAA Tournament the Seminoles defeated Florida for the second time to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.
Tollefson was an all-region and All-ACC second-team selection as a sophomore, scored a career-high six goals and added a career-high six assists in 2001. She was only the fourth player in school history to earn All-ACC honors and, in leading Florida State to its first-ever ACC Tournament championship game, became only the fifth Seminole to earn All-ACC Tournament honors.
A team-captain this season as voted by her teammates, Tollefson shows no signs of slowing down.
“My main goal is to perform at the highest level I can whenever I am on the field,” she said. “I want to be relentless and to not stop working for my team and my teammates. I have always believed that if you are giving it your all and your work ethic is unmatched then good things will come your way.”
One word with Patrick Baker:
“The one word I use to describe Amber Tollefson is glue. Amber is the glue of our team. I think she holds us together. I think she is the pulse of our team. I think a lot of what happens within our team goes through her. She’s the one that a lot of people turn to. She’s the one who is always putting other players first before herself. She’s definitely the glue of our team”.
Amber's Favorites: Favorite Food: Smurf Ice Cream Favorite Movie: The Goonies Favorite Musical Group: Chris McCarty Band Favorite Class At FSU: Television Production Craziest Ambition: To become a professional surfer Nickname: Sugar Best Word To Describe Me: Energetic Pre-Game Rituals: Read passages in a motivational notebook My Pet Is: A bijon shiatsu named Maverick (team mascot)
Corum followed Tollefson in committing to play for the Seminoles as Baker’s recruiting efforts began to pick up steam. Another of the Region III ODP team members (along with Tollefson and Boyce), Corum had come to know Baker through the ODP and enjoyed his style of coaching.
“I had worked with coach Baker for three years before I became a freshman,” Corum said. “I really liked his style, the way he coached, his seriousness and the way he handled the ODP program. His style carried over to the Florida State program.”
Corum was one of Florida State’s top freshmen in 2000 and was even better as a sophomore. She was among the team leaders in assists and was at her best in Florida State’s biggest games. Corum was credited with assists in seven of eight games down the stretch including Maryland in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
“Summer has meant a great deal to this team since her arrival,” said Baker. ‘Last year she was the one player on two different occasions who forced two of our opponents (Kansas and Loyola) to change their system of play at halftime to address her being so dominant against their team. That’s one of the biggest compliments you can get.”
Florida State won both of those games versus the two NCAA Tournament teams.
Corum has earned success on the soccer field for the Seminoles despite a medical condition the makes lower portions of her legs go numb after 25 to 30 minutes on the field. Despite her struggles to stay on the field for 75-80 minutes a game, Corum is one of the most exciting Seminole players to watch during a game.
Said Baker: “At times, I would pay to watch her play. That, I think, says a lot. She can be very, very dynamic at times.”
“I wanted to make an impact on this team any way I could when I first came to Florida State,” said Corum. “Whether it was working hard or being a team leader or whatever, I was going to do anything to help make this team successful. I wanted to help this team progress in the ACC’s and make it into the tournament. When success came my first year it was amazing, when it came last year it was even better. I am going to continue to strive to reach my individual goals and to reach the team goals we have re-established due to the program’s success. We want to get back to the ACC championship and win it and progress even further in the NCAA’s.”
One word with Patrick Baker:
“The one word I use to describe Summer Corum is unpredictable. With Summer, you never really see the same thing twice. She is always unbalancing a player and unbalancing a defense.”
Summer's Favorites: Favorite Food: Spaghetti Favorite Movie: The Bone Collector Favorite Musical Group: Dixie Chicks Favorite Class At Florida State: Law Enforcement Craziest Ambition: To Skydive Nickname/Nicknames: Sum-Sum Best Word To Describe Me: Carefree
Boyce became a member of the Seminoles when she committed to Baker and immediately made a good recruiting class even better. A native Texan, Boyce was an all-state selection as a prep senior and had recently been chosen the MVP of the Region III ODP Tournament.
“Florida State and Patrick Baker showed me their commitment to the sport of soccer when I came on my visit,” said Boyce. “It was evident to me that the school and the coach were trying to turn the program into a contender and I liked that very much.”
Boyce immediately realized the role she and the other members of her recruiting class would play in the turnaround of this program. They all believed they needed to prove themselves during each and every practice and during each and every game to show their commitment to the program.
“It took every practice and every game to prove to the upperclassmen that we were here and we were trying to help the program,” said Boyce. “We wanted to be a part of Florida State soccer and the turnaround we knew we could achieve. By our class putting in the effort and putting in the time, it has made everyone else want to do the same.”
Individually, Boyce has been one of Florida State’s top two-way players during her career. A defender who earned all-region honors in 2001, she has been an integral member of the Seminoles’ best defense in program history and has also scored seven career goals. Boyce led Florida State’s defense which allowed a program-low 31 goals in 2000 and finished in the teams top five in points (11), goals (five), game-winning goals (one) and shots in 2001.
“One of the things that has made her extremely special for us is her ability to get forward and join the attack,” said Baker. “A lot of defenders will not venture forward too much but not only can she hurt you by defending well but she can hurt you by getting forward to join our attack. She probably has more goals than our defense combined in the last two years and probably isn’t that far behind a couple of our midfielders.”
“I’ve not considered recruiting an outside left back at any point in time just because we have Boyce,” said Baker.
One word with Patrick Baker:
“The one word I use to describe Kristin Boyce is warrior. She is the kind of player I want to go to battle with. I know she’s got my back. I know she is going to give me 100 percent. She cares about her teammates, she cares about the game and she cares about winning. She has a wonderfully competitive attitude.”
Kristin's Favorites: Favorite Food: Mashed potatoes Favorite Movie: Better Off Dead Favorite Musical Group: No favorite, I like all kinds of music Favorite Class At Florida State: Sports psychology Craziest Ambition: To learn how to surf Nickname/Nicknames: Boy-see Best Word To Describe Me: Energetic Pre-Game Rituals: Sleeping
The Seminoles’ hidden gem in the junior class, Tori George was the exclamation point to Baker’s second recruiting class at Florida State. She was the final player to commit to the Seminoles for the 2000 season but one of the most important additions to the class. Looking for an athletic defender, Baker was able to utilize his recruiting roots to find just the player he needed. With contact information from a former Seminole assistant coach, Baker evaluated George at the end of the recruiting period and was happy to bring her into the program.
“We heard about Tori and we went and saw her play and immediately liked her,” said Baker. “She came to visit and one of the things I really liked about Tori was the emotion she displayed. Tori really felt like this was what she was looking for in a college and a program and an environment. It was all right there for her and I realized right then and there that was someone I definitely wanted to be part of our program.”
A member of Virginia’s ODP team, George played in 18 matches while starting three as a freshman. She was a key member of Florida State’s defense that helped the Seminoles reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. George, though, decided after her first season as a Seminole to remove herself from the program and take a year away from the competitive aspect of a sport she had been playing all of her life.
“I decided not to play last fall and thought I was done with soccer,” she said. “I missed it and come back this spring with a renewed love for the sport. I needed a break from soccer to enable myself to straighten out the priorities in my life. Soccer, I thought, was too high on my list of priorities. The break allowed me to realize it could be fun again.”
During her season away, George played intramural soccer and became a member of the Air Force R.O.T.C. on campus.
“When Tori asked if she could come back on the team there was no hesitation,” said Baker “We knew we wanted someone of her caliber on and off the field.”
The commitment of this recruiting class has established the foundation for the Seminoles to build one of the nation’s top programs. When the soccer world looks back on the Florida State soccer program, its current junior class is going to be considered the cornerstone of a remarkable women’s soccer tradition at Florida State.
“If this is the halfway point in the careers of our junior class, I hope things don’t change,” said Baker. ‘When people look back they are going to look at a particular team and potentially a particular recruiting class that, for hopefully four straight years, was in the top 25 every week, enjoyed great success in the conference, made it to the NCAA Tournament, gave themselves a chance to win a national championship every year and worked hard to do it. That is something they are already starting to create. You can tell that with the current team and you can tell that with recruiting. If that continues they will have laid one of the best women’s soccer legacies in a long time.”
One word with Patrick Baker:
“The one word I use to describe Tori George is caring. She cares about what people think. She cares about her teammates. She cares about a lot of things and she cares about a lot of people.”
Tori's Favorites: Favorite Food: Tamales Favorite Movie: Top Gun Favorite Musical Group: Dashboard Confessional Favorite Class At Florida State: Science and Nutrition Craziest Ambition: To serve a charitable mission Nickname/Nicknames: Ya-Ya Pre-Game Rituals: spending quiet time My Pet Is: A yellow lab named Zeke