VYPE 411: Rileigh Toner of Stratford Girls Soccer
Rileigh Toner recently won the VYPE Houston Public School Girls Soccer Player of the Year Fall Poll! VYPE caught up with Toner for the 411 on the star from Stratford.
VYPE: How long have you been playing soccer and how did you get your start?
TONER: I’ve been playing soccer for about 14 years. I was with my parents at my older brother’s club soccer game as a toddler not even 2. We were watching the game and I found a soccer ball, I started running around behind it. This was before my memory, but I know this because there are pictures of me at a game as a bald little baby with a soccer ball as tall as my legs being dribbled. That continued with me just playing around when I could then at the age of 4 I started with the club I stayed at until graduation. I have been playing for Albion Hurricanes for the past 14 years of my life, and I have truly loved and enjoyed every minute of it.
VYPE: Who’s your favorite athlete and why?
TONER: My favorite athlete is Lionel Messi. When I started understanding the game of soccer, I would start to watch a lot of soccer matches on TV and try to focus on players in my position. My favorite team back then was Barça when Messi was with the club, and I remember just watching everything he did and it was outstanding. Messi is such a skillful hardworking player every time he would step onto the field, and watching all his movements, skills, and goals always amazed me. And as everyone knows, Messi is amazing at taking free kicks. I remember I always wanted to be able to take free kicks like him and convert them in games. My Junior year I was able to make that a reality when I scored my on first free kick goal and it went on a pretty decent couple years of converting them.
VYPE: What’s your pre-game meal? Routine?
TONER: My pregame meals to start every game day off is avocado toast with a sunny side up egg on top (Bravacado toast, shout out to Snooze). This meal always filled me up and gave me a lot of energy throughout the day. Another is I always get an orange celsius to drink right before warmups, and of course everyone has to have playlists. I have a few depending if it’s a club game riding in the car or one we would blast on the bus on the way to high school games.
VYPE: Off the field, what is your favorite thing to do?
TONER: Off the field I love my dogs! So if I can do something fun with them I do. We got a new pup at the start of the high school season, he went with us to Austin for the Georgetown tournament, we did pretty well, he became a superstition (so he could come) even made it to many of my games (he may or may not have snuck into a game or few). Other than that I really enjoy spending time with my friends and hanging out with them. With High school soccer 5 days a week, having club soccer 3 days a week, in addition to game days. So when i’m not busy with soccer or the pups I try catch up with friends and spend as much time with them as much as I possibly could.
VYPE: Favorite subject in school?
TONER: My favorite subject in school is algebra, math, stats.
VYPE: What is the one memory from the game you'll never forget playing soccer?
TONER: A memory from club soccer that I’ll never forget is making it to nationals last summer, which was held in Florida, and getting 2nd place. It was very hard going home after the final game, after battling it out with a very good team taking them to overtime and then losing in PK’s. But at the end of the day, we were all proud that we made it all the way to the final and played are hearts out. But the absolute far and away best memory of all time that I’ll never forget was this high school season. Being a senior and team captain - I really wanted to have fun and go out on a high note! Making it all the way to the regional finals with this amazing team was the BEST. From the beginning of the season, this team instantly became close and we were like one big family. We would just enjoy every second with each other, I honestly don’t remember one time when we were not laughing and getting along. Whether it was team dinners, practices, and games, every minute was so much fun! What made this year on varsity so much fun and reason we were success was we brought up 5 freshman to the team, and being a freshman on varsity can be intimidating. As soon as Coach Walters decided they would be moved up we were all so excited to have them on the team. We made sure to make them feel like they were a part of this team and that they knew they could talk to us about anything about soccer school or life whenever they wanted without being scared or feeling like no one wanted to talk to them. I especially wanted to make them feel welcomed because I remember my freshman year on varsity, we had 28 players and 14 of them were seniors, I kind of felt excluded from everything and I was always scared to talk to the older kids and I truly did not enjoy that feeling. So when I found out I was going to be captain and that new freshman were coming in, I made sure that when those freshman were getting moved up, I wanted nothing more than to make them feel welcome and at home. Our team couldn’t have done it any better without this amazing group of girls we had this year on varsity, especially the youngsters. I will never forget the bond this team and I had, and all of the history we made together our first district championship in 6A, going into PKs in the regional final. None of this would have happened without the whole team coming together, and those young players were a major part of that. I also would love to thank this team for making me a better player and for helping me achieve the awards I have received my last year here, I could have never been done without them. I love this team so much, there was a great bond with all of us and made many friends I will have for life. They were amazing and I would say I’ll miss them but I won’t, because I plan on coming to watch them every chance I get - I went from a teammate to now being their biggest fan and I will support and help them in any way I can as I move on to my next phase I will enjoy watching them go to even greater achievements and recognition.