Tori Yantis’ toughest opponent admittedly at times has been herself.
The 5-foot-10 Nixa junior center looks up to some posts, but is almost always more athletic than most of her counterparts. Thus far, the consensus is she has only tapped into her potential while dealing with self-confidence.
“I’ve always struggled with what people think and me not believing myself as much as what other people do,” Yantis said. “You would think that would be easy to fix, but it’s not. It’s taken me a while to focus on what I can control and forgetting everything I can’t control. It’s been a battle, especially last year.
“I actually felt guilty for starting last year,” she added. “I don’t know why. Maybe that’s part of being a girl or having that responsibility. But I felt I was only there because I was a post, that it wasn’t because I was good enough to be there.”
Yantis is optimistic she can play at her best while being reunited with classmates who were on Nixa’s jayvee last season.
“This year, I’m playing with more girls that I grew up with and love playing with,” she said. “That’s boosted my confidence.”
Yantis, who a season-high 17 points against St. Clair last season, feels she’s well on her way to fulfilling the promise many see in her by being stronger mentally.
“I’m getting there, it’s a journey. I’m working toward it,” she said. “I’m forgetting who’s in the crowd, whether it’s other students, parents or college coaches. I’m focusing on my game and what I can do to help the team.”
The Lady Eagles will find themselves a bit undersized at times along the front line, but promise to be physical.
“We’re not very big. I’m the tallest girl by about three inches and I’m not even tall compared to some of the girls we play,” Yantis said. “I enjoy working with these girls so much. They’re on to me a lot in practices for finishing around the basket. There’s defense there all the time. There aren’t going to be easy-peasy layups.”