Favorite athlete: Zac MacMath
Favorite team: Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: When my whole team dog piled me after I made the game winning save in a penalty kick tiebreaker for the semifinals.
Funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: One time at swim practice, in the middle of practice, everyone started to sing “Country Roads” by John Denver.
Music on your mobile device: Country & Hip-hop
Future plans: To become a middle/high school math teacher
Words to live by: “Everything happens for a reason”
One goal before turning 30: To travel to Maldives with my husband
One thing people don’t know about me: I like to ski with my friends and family.
By Ed Morrone
Soon enough, Meghan Reilly started to hear the whispers from the girls on her William Tennent swim team: Victoria Ferro was making a comeback.
This fact delighted Reilly, as the coach admitted she was disappointed when Ferro, a talented swimmer and diver, walked away from the program after freshman year to focus on her academics. And who was Reilly to argue? After all, she is a schoolteacher first, and work in the classroom comes before everything else.
Still, Reilly said the team missed Ferro’s bubbly, outgoing personality, not to mention the fact that she was a willing diver, and those don’t grow on trees in the Suburban One.
“Over this past summer, I had a bunch of different swimmers reach out and tell me, ‘Hey, Tori is thinking of coming back, is that something she can do?’” Reilly recalled. “And I told them absolutely, there’s not a reason someone can’t come back, especially if they miss the sport.
“She decided to come back because she wanted to have fun her senior year. I told her we’d love to have her. The thing about Tori is, she’s always willing to try new dives.”
In a world where many high school student-athletes drive themselves mad competing in sports with the hope of getting a college scholarship, Ferro’s story is a breath of fresh air. Also a goalkeeper on the Tennent soccer team, Ferro participates mainly for the love of her chosen sports, as well as the camaraderie she gets to share with her teammates.
She had successfully stepped away to focus on her studies, but now that her academic future was starting to come into focus, Ferro just couldn’t stay away any longer.
“I came back because I love the people,” she said. “Everyone there made me feel so much better about myself. They always made me smile. Plus, I really love diving and felt that I was good at it, and a chance to come back and do well put me in a much better mood.”
Ferro began swimming competitively in 2012 and diving in 2014 at Hideaway Swim Club in Hatboro, but it was only something she did during her summers off. She had tried gymnastics when she was younger and thought correctly that some of those skills would transfer to the diving board, and after awhile, Ferro discovered that she loved the pressure of being on an island, with all eyes on her as she did her thing.
“Of course diving is scary, anyone will tell you that,” she said. “The whole sport is mental, you have to get on that board and tell yourself you can do it. I know I have the ability to jump far enough from the board and maintain a good height. Every time, I still psyche myself out, so I have to give myself a reason: ‘I’m going to do this for my coaches, or for someone I love,’ and that’s what gets me through.”
With about three weeks left in the diving season, Ferro certainly has no regrets about deciding to return. Not only has she found the fulfillment and enjoyment that was missing during her hiatus, but she’s getting results, too. In a recent Senior Day meet against Cheltenham, Ferro took first place in her diving events, and the genuine surprise and delight on her face was infectious for the entire team.
“She’s gotten second or third in a few others, so it was a very special moment for her,” Reilly said. “For her to do it in a senior meet was a pretty big deal. You could tell she wasn’t expecting it, so it was wonderful to see her face when they announced she had finished first. She was like, ‘Who? Me?’”
Chuck Venuto is Ferro’s diving coach at Tennent. It’s his first year working for her, and the first impression that he relayed back to Reilly was that it was almost a shame he had such a short time teaching her because Ferro is such a naturally-gifted athlete that with a bit more practice she could have medaled at districts, no question.
Venuto had his own Ferro anecdote that filled him with pride. Because of his work schedule, Venuto can only make evening practices, so Ferro and the other divers represent themselves on his behalf at meets. Before the Cheltenham event, he challenged all of his divers to step outside of their comfort zone and take the road less traveled to success. Sometimes, he said, nudging like this falls on deaf ears.
Not this time.
“Certain dives I try to push her outside her comfort zone,” Venuto said. “When I heard how she did, she told me that not only did she place first, but she chose to do the harder dive I had pushed her to do and still finished first. She had the choice to take the path most traveled, the easier route, and she chose to do the harder of the two and prevailed. It was such a complete feeling for me as a coach.
“Tori is a natural athlete. It’s not a sport where you just get back on the bike and go like you always have, but she’s such an athlete that she can pull off some dives like she’s been doing them her entire life. You can’t just teach someone the determination she has. Had I had her longer to lay more groundwork on fine-tuned techniques, she’d be well beyond her years. She’s elevated the level of competitiveness and overall excitement of the sport by osmosis. Tori has been a very delightful addition to the team.”
Ferro maintains that she’s giddy that she decided to return for a senior year after two years off, noting that she often finds herself in much better moods when she gets home for the night, having just competed in something she loves.
She receives a similar jolt of adrenaline from standing between the posts on the soccer field. There’s just something about being the last line of defense on the field, the player responsible for communicating directives to the rest of her team that provides such a rush of blood to the head.
“I like to step outside of my comfort zone, and not just on the diving board,” she said. “If I go skiing with my family, I’m always willing to try the next obstacle or jump. As a goalie, I love stepping in front of that net and telling myself, ‘OK, that ball is mine, I’m going to go get it.’ I’m willing to step in front of it even if it’s coming at me at 60 mph. The adrenaline that comes from being a diver or goalie, the fact that everyone is depending on you, I thrive off of that.”
Ferro commands respect on the field, which allowed her to be a two-time captain of the soccer team despite the fact that she only really saw significant varsity minutes as a senior this past season.
“She’s a great communicator, and the girls follow her,” girls soccer head coach Bill Hontz said. “The way she communicates, it’s more controlled than a yell. She knows exactly how to motivate them.”
All of Ferro’s coaches painted a similar picture of a young woman who is universally loved. Her teammates gravitate toward her and her coaches rely on her to be a calming presence. This is all incredibly flattering to Ferro, validation that she played her chosen sports for the right reasons.
That said, she is so much more than just a two-sport athlete at the school. She boasts a 3.7 GPA, and while she was away from the swim team, she loaded up her schedule with all kinds of honors classes: Psychology, English, Pre-Calculus, Physics, you name it. Ferro is mostly drawn to math-based classes, and plans on majoring in Secondary Math Education in college. She’s not sure where she’s going yet, but did get into all four schools she applied to — Temple, West Chester, Millersville and Penn State — so the choice remains hers.
Ferro caught the teaching bug from her mother, a middle school instructor in the Neshaminy School District.
“My mom talks about how much she loves watching (her students) grow,” she said. “It’s when they start changing as people, figuring out who they are and what they want to be. Plus, my mom had summers off every year of my life, we had so many fun days that it made me want the same thing for my kids.”
Elsewhere, Ferro has participated in a plethora of clubs and activities: Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, Mathletes, Ski Club, Powderpuff and had a hand in helping plan Tennent’s annual Black & White field day. She’s also a manager at the Spring Mill Swim Club during her summers.
Ferro said she and her family take different vacations every year, and she loves to ski more than anything. She’s caught the travel bug and said her bucket list trip is visiting the Maldives with her future husband before the time she turns 30.
Athletics are just a small part of Ferro’s identity, and that’s just fine. Both the swimming/diving and soccer teams were left more enriched because of her presence, and soon, she will graduate from Tennent and continue to leave her unique imprint on the world.
“Someone will have to step up and not only be our motivator, but also be ‘the mother’ of the team,” Hontz said. “It’s not easy being a male and coaching 45 girls through what they’re going through both on and off the field. She’s there for them, and that’s the part of her that is going to be so hard to replace. Being a keeper, she’s just stepped up to be the lead person. She’s a great girl who always puts a smile on my face whenever I see her.”