Clovis senior Tori Northcutt is playing in her third state final in four years. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
T-Bird connotes a certain amount of class when the subject of vintage cars comes up. Evidently, it has the same meaning when it comes to Clovis senior Tori Northcutt.
Northcutt has been selected as the Class 5A Sportsmanship Award winner by the New Mexico Activities Association. Since she was a little girl, Northcutt has been called T-Bird — a name first given to her by her father.
“It’s a great honor — the first one I think we’ve had here in Clovis,” Clovis coach Miles Watters said. “It’s just a great honor for her, the team and the Northcutt family.
“Tori’s the kind of kid that’s highly competitive. She’ll knock you down, but then she’ll help you back up. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say a cross word to anybody. She gets upset and will compete hard, but she plays under control and understands how the game should be played.”
Northcutt said she tries to keep emotions in check in a sometimes emotional game.
“Most of the time, if it’s a deadball, I’ll try to help them up. I don’t know, I just kind of try to stay neutral and not get mad,” said Northcutt, who also receives a $500 scholarship as part of the honor.
She admits letting the emotions getting the best of her one time.
In the 2005 Class 5A state championship game, she and Mayfield’s Madison Spence fought for the ball near the sideline. An elbow from Northcutt caught Spence flush on the nose and sent the bloodied Trojan to the bench.
“I threw (and elbow) and felt really bad about it. When we’ve seen them the last few times, her mom and my mom have talked and (Spence’s mother) says, ‘Yeah, I’ll never forget when Tori broke Madison’s nose,’” Northcutt said.
Still, according to those who know Northcutt, that blow more illustrates her tenacity rather than some ill-tempered athlete. In fact, Northcutt’s coach says that she’s a perfect fit for the NMAA’s state goal for high school competitors.
“It couldn’t go to a better person. It hit the nail on the head with me,” Watters said. “Someone who’s pursuing victory with honor, hey this is Tori all the way around.”