FORT WALTON BEACH – Tori Orcutt has never had trouble commanding the spotlight.
The Fort Walton Beach senior has lettered in four sports, including 14 state medals spread across swimming and track.
She’s the reigning Daily News Girls Swimmer of the Year.
She’s an All-American and national champion in the Modern Pentathlon.
She’s committed to the University of Kentucky for swimming.
And, even with a grueling athletic schedule that has her sidelined for the next month with a back injury, she finds time to maintain a 4.71 GPA and her many philanthropic endeavors in the community.
Simply put, she’s the whole package.
And Tuesday’s pomp and circumstance in Fort Walton Beach High School cafeteria represented that, Orcutt recognized as a Heisman High School Scholarship National Finalist in front of teachers, peers, family and friends.
And also a few news crews, there to capture the drum line and the standing-room-only crowd that came together to surprise the 17-year-old.
“I didn’t expect it, but it was really, really exciting and thoughtful of my school to support me like that,” said Orcutt, who was sporting a blue Kentucky pullover. “It’s always nerve-wracking to be in front of a crowd, but they’re like family.”
How exclusive is the finalists club? Just six females across the nation made the cut and 12 student-athletes overall, each earning at least a $1,000 scholarship.
“I’m excited for her,” her mom, Terry, said. “She does a lot with her sports, her academics and she’s very involved in community service.
“She’s really been a great kid and I’m proud of her.”
On Dec. 4, one male and one female national winner will be announced and earn a $5,000 scholarship. Soon after they’ll make their way to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation on Dec. 14.
Win or lose, Orcutt isn’t sweating it. She’s just enjoying the moment.
“I’m very thankful for what I’ve already achieved,” she said. “I’m very thankful to be the school representative, the state representative and now one of the nationalist finalist. I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m just very thankful to be where I am and anything more would be amazing.”
As for potentially becoming the face of an award celebrating the prowess of student-athletes on the field, in the classroom and in the community, Orcutt appears as qualified as any candidate.
Along with her athletic and academic successes, Orcutt wrote in her four mini-essays about her military background and also a mental health project she’s working on about suicide prevention after losing a friend.
“My parents always set a great example for being leaders in the military so I always wanted to be well-rounded person,” Orcutt said. “My sports are very important for me but community service, academics and more importantly character has been a big part of my life.”
Also a big part of her life is big brother, Daniel, who just so happened to win the 2016 Heisman Scholarship. She’ll join him on at Kentucky next year.
“Going to New York and seeing all of his accomplishments pay off and him being recognized for his hard work was amazing, so I knew I wanted to apply,” she said. “And I just thought whatever happened would happen and I’d be thankful for whatever I got out of it.”
Reigning Daily News Swimmer of the year. Four-sport letterwinner. University of Kentucky Commit.
Now FWB's Tori Orcutt can add Heisman High School Scholarship National Finalist to her résumé. https://t.co/Q4xQd8948N