Tori Huster is the only player on the Washington Spirit roster who has been a member of the team for every season of the professional women’s soccer team’s existence. Huster has been a part of the team which started in the NWSL’s debut year in March 2013 — and the 28-year-old Huster has lived in Germantown during all six seasons with the Spirit.
“This is my sixth season in the Germantown area,” said Huster, who grew up in Cincinnati. She recently spoke to Germantown Pulse after a team training season at the Maryland SoccerPlex. “My first impression was Germantown was actually a lot like home. When I first got here in March it was cold, but there are four seasons, just like home, although I am only here for three seasons most of the time. When everything greens up in the summertime, it is a lot like home.”
The fiery redhead has become a staple playing midfield for Spirit fans attending games at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Back on March 31, Spirit owner Bill Lynch honored Huster with an honorary No. 100 jersey ahead of the team’s 2018 home opener. Huster hit the milestone on the weekend before in Spirit’s season-opening road game against Seattle Reign FC. In addition to her 100 regular season appearances with the club, Huster has played in four postseason matches, including the 2016 NWSL Championship. She was called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team for matches in France and England in February 2015.
Huster has worn the No. 23 for her entire career with the Spirit. In 2013, she was the Spirit’s second pick in the NWSL Supplemental Draft. She was a four-year starter at Florida State University. Huster played the most minutes of any Spirit player in 2016. She has scored three goals as a member of the Spirit.
As a member of the Spirit, Huster has played with and against some of the best female soccer players in the world, including Women’s World Cup winners Carly Lloyd, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, and Marta.
“It is interesting that when I go out, and I am at a restaurant or store, and I see a little girl in her soccer uniform and cleats, I know that she has more than likely been playing at the ‘Plex, and that is really cool,” said Huster. “If I am wearing soccer clothes or I happen to be wearing something that says Washington Spirit, parents might come up and say something to me,” she said.
To Huster, who is obviously a very soccer-centric person, Germantown and the SoccerPlex have become synonymous.
“The ‘Plex kind of unites Germantown and the soccer community that is around Germantown. I love seeing all the families that come out to the ‘Plex. I see people walking the trails all the time, whether that is people that live close by or they are just coming to see some green space. It is a cool thing to have so close to home.” She added that there was no place like the SoccerPlex where she grew up in Ohio. “I actually played here with a club team in high school. There was never anything this large, covering this much ground with fields that are this when I was a kid.”
Over the last few years, Huster said Germantown has become a home-base since her younger sister has been playing in the Spirit organization on the Spirit Reserve team, and now as a member of the professional team.
In January, the Spirit drafted Huster’s younger sister, Maddie Huster in the third round of the NWSL draft, after the younger Huster finished her college career a Wake Forest University. Last year, Maddie Huster played on the Spirit Reserve team in the US W-League. Last week, on June 5, the Spirit signed Maddie Huster to the team as a National Team Replacement Player. She has been practicing with the team all season.
“For me, home is where my sister is, and she is here now,” said the older Huster. “She is playing with this team now. It has been so much fun going to work with her every day. I said work — I get to hang out and play soccer and have fun with her every day. My parents moved out of our childhood home, so when I say go home, it isn’t necessarily going back to that house, so the idea of home has shifted for me. I do think of the D.C.-area as being my second home.”
“It is great living close to a big city like Washington,” said Huster. “What I really love about the area is the diversity of people and different kinds of people that I interact with on a day to day basis in a coffee shop or going shopping. There is a wonderful diversity of people. In Cincinnati, you have, more or less, the same types of people. It has been really interesting to interact with different kinds of people all across the board, whether they are young or old, whether they are originally from this country or they came here. To be able to speak to them and learn the stories of how they got here is interesting.”
“Germantown provides solace for me,” she said. “It isn’t too far from the city, so I can get there if I want, but it is away from the noise of the city. That allows me to choose when I want to get crazy and busy, and when I want to just chill out and relax with my dog and the other dogs at the house. Germantown definitely quieter and I can hang out here and relax. I am a native of Cincinnati, and that is never going to leave me, but my home-base has shifted to the D.C. area and Germantown.”
A home-base is important for a world-traveling professional soccer player, who spends four months of the year playing for the Newcastle Jets Women’s Team in the Australian W-League. The W-League plays from November through the end of January. There is no off-season for professional soccer players.
Huster has played four seasons in Australia. “From my perspective, the beaches in Australia are incomparable; nothing compares to them. I live in the small coastal city of Newcastle, which has really grown up quite a bit since I have been playing there. It has been cool to see. Going back after eight months to see how it has grown every year.”
“I enjoy going into D.C. as much as I enjoy going to the beaches in Newcastle,” said Huster. “That is why I love this sport so much. It has allowed me to experience so many different places and types of people from all around the world. I have been so lucky to be able to do that.”
Huster said that she doesn’t get recognized as much in Germantown as she does in Newcastle, but the growth of women’s soccer in the D.C. area is changing that.
“In Australia, professional soccer players are more recognizable because there are a lot fewer people in the country, but in Newcastle, specifically, there are fewer people, and I do have red hair — it makes me stand out. A lot of the players on the team get noticed quite a bit. There have been tons of times when I go to the coffee shop in the morning in Newcastle and people would wish me good luck in the game that night. Soccer is growing over there just as much as it is here in the U.S.”
However, she said that she does get recognized in Germantown too. “There are definitely people at the Starbucks near the Giant that know that we play for the Spirit and wish us well. It is always fun to get a ‘good luck’ or a wave.”
Huster and her teammates are back in action at 7:00 pm at the SoccerPlex, when they host the Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, June 16.
Top: Washington Spirit midfielder Tori Huster has adopted Germantown as her home-base, especially since her younger sister Maddie is now playing with the Spirit.
Next: Huster is the last remaining member of the original Washington Spirit team who remains on the roster. She was selected in the 2013 NWSL Supplemental draft. This photo is from the 2014 season as Huster (23) battles with Sky Blue FC’s Monica Ocampo (8).
Next: At the beginning of the Spirit’s 2018 season, Washington Spirit owner Bill Lynch honored Tori Huster for her 100th career game with the Spirit. Photo courtesy Washington Spirit.
Next: Huster’s red hair makes it hard for her not to get recognized off the field. She said she often gets waves and good luck wishes while getting coffee in Germantown.
Next: Huster tangles with USWNT and Chicago Red Star superstar Julie Ertz (8) at during a 2018 matchup at the 'Plex.
Next: Tori Huster (23) battles Canadian International superstar Christine Sinclair (12) at a recent NWSL matchup at the SoccerPlex.
Next: A native of Cincinnati, Huster, who now lives in Germantown for eight months a year says the SoccerPlex unites Germantown and the soccer community around Montgomery County.
Photos by Germantown Pulse, unless otherwise noted.
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