Tori Hastings keeping up a family tradition ahead of debut Ulster Premier League season
Queen's University's new signing Tori Hastings doesn't need to look too far for moral support as she contemplates her first season with the Students in the Ulster Premier League.
The former Ballymoney and Ireland Under-18 midfielder comes from a rich sporting background as her dad, Jeremy, played squash for Ulster and Ireland and rugby for his province.
Tori's great grandfather, William Collopy, can go one better as he is a former Ireland rugby captain and, unsurprisingly, she wants to follow in the illustrious sporting footsteps of her relatives.
"Having such a sporting family definitely encouraged me to have an interest in sport and from a young age my parents, especially my dad, taught my brother and sister and I how to play the different sports we were interested in," explained 18-year-old Tori.
"My love for hockey started from knocking about on the sidelines at my older sister's training sessions and my dream is to some day in the future be capped at senior international level.
"I played for Ireland at U16 and U18 level and we won the EuroHockey Championship II tournament in Italy over the summer.
"In the coming year, my first target is to be selected for the Ulster U21 squad for whatever programme they have in place for this year."
Tori says she had no hesitation in joining Queen's where she is a beneficiary of the Elite Athlete Programme.
"I will have full access to the excellent coaching and facilities at Upper Malone, free gym membership, strength and conditioning, physio, sports medicine and sports science support and I will also receive financial support with respect to fees and accommodation," continued the Dentistry student.
"Girls that I know who have played at Queen's recommended it to me and said how much they enjoyed their university hockey, so for me it was an easy decision."
Queen's begin their Premier League campaign on Saturday with a trip to Lisnagarvey and Tori believes that they can do well this season, especially as they don't have the three IHL clubs to contend with.
"We were fifth last season and with the talented bunch of girls I've met at this year's pre-season, there's no doubt that the whole team will be targeting a top three finish and a spot at the IHL play-offs," added Tori, who scored a goal on her debut in Monday night's 6-0 Ulster Shield win over Armagh.
Among other intriguing Premier League clashes are Saturday's meeting between Ballymoney and Lurgan at the Joey Dunlop Centre and Friday evening's meeting between Portadown and Dungannon at Edenvilla.
There is also a full programme in Senior One, with some games being staged on Friday and the others on Saturday.