Thori Staples Bryan from Joppatowne outside of Baltimore, Md is our Black History Month featured star. Thori was a three-time First Team All-America soccer player at North Carolina State as well as being a member of the U.S. Women’s National team in 1995 and 2000 respectively. She also played pro soccer for four years. Thori, who was a defender, played for the Bay Area Cyber Rays in the Women’s United Soccer Association after an All-American college career at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Before her college and professional career, Thori, as a youth, played soccer for the Columbia Crusaders for five years. She also excelled and won state championships in track and field featuring in the long jump, 400-meter dash and 800-meter run.
While NCAA championship teams from the University of North Carolina, Tar Heels got all the accolades for winning many titles, NC State also was considered a powerhouse producing players like Staples and our previous honoree Charmaine Hooper. Thori was nominated for the Missouri Athletic Club National College Player of the Year award in both 1994 and 1995. During her senior year, she started all 22 regular season games for the Wolfpack as they won 18 games and only lost four while maintaining a No. 9 national ranking.
She was a first round pick and the first American player to be selected in the inaugural draft of the Women’s United Soccer Association. After four and half years away from pro-soccer as a result of the (WUSA) folding, she returned to play with the Carolina Rail Hawks in the W-League. She will also go down as one of the best USA national team players where she would go on to earn 64 caps from 1993 to 2003. In 1994, she played a pivotal role for the national team as she helped the USA win the CONCACAF title. Meanwhile, as a coach she served as an assistant coach for the Lady Hokies of Virginia Tech, while she ran the Thori Bryan Soccer Academy in Wake Forest, N.C. with the support of her husband, Kip Bryan. It is to be noted that Thori was inducted in the Maryland Hall of Fame where her name will go down in history as one of the best. We also would like to double congratulate a pioneer and a great person that excelled in her career for the 2020 black history month as we continue to feature some of the unknown and unrecognized black soccer stars. Thori has also been selected as one of a six-member class in the sixth overall selection since the establishment of the Hall of Fame in 2012 at NC State. She will be inducted at a gala in Reynolds Coliseum on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.