The length of time it takes the average person to go through the five stages of grief and loss — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — could take up to four years for the average person.
Of course, at Babson College the last four years, Andover’s Tori Roche has been anything but average.
Roche’s bout with those “stages” this spring lasted about five or six days.
That’s no surprise. A rare two-sport collegiate star, in field hockey and softball, Roche has a ferocious competitive streak.
It all started prior to the coronavirus outbreak, after Babson softball’s first game of the spring.
“We were in Arizona and won our first game. It was a great win. We played well and I felt great. It was a great way to start the season,” said Roche, who was 1 for 3, with an RBI and was perfect behind the plate in the 11-4 win.
Scheduled to rest the next two days, Roche was in the trainer’s room checking on a teammate getting treatment. A total Tori-captain move.
Upon returning to the dugout, she walked toward an assistant coach and teammate when, wearing her brand new cleats, she slipped. Her legs flew out and she landed on her left wrist.
“I’ve fallen so many times in my career in all sports,” said Roche.
This, though, was different. Her wrist took all of her weight after her legs went forward, hence the awkward fall.
“I knew from the second I hit the ground that it was bad,” said Tori. “That something snapped.”
Several people ran to Tori.
“I showed my wrist to our assistant, and I saw the look of panic on her face,” said Roche. “The thing is, I was calm. But then my teammates are helping me, the trainer is there, and then everyone is getting emotional.
“When my parents came to the dugout, and I saw their faces, I thought, ‘My career is over. Then I lost it.”
Tori and her parents, WBZ-TV sportscaster Dan and Pam, went to the emergency room at the local Tucson hospital and, as expected, it was broken. But the doctor didn’t know how badly.
The next day, all of the Roches got on a plane back to Boston, to see a specialist.
The following Sunday, the specialist in Boston, looking at the X-rays, didn’t mince words. Her career was over. Her wrist was broken in three places.
“I was pretty devastated,” said Tori.
Then the news started getting worse by the day.
After a successful surgery, while she was driving away from the hospital, she got word from her coach that the team’s trip to Hawaii — which required extensive fundraising work — was not going to happen.
“Every day it was something,” said Roche.
Then everything changed when the Ivy League and NESCAC announced cancelling their spring season due to the coronavirus outbreak. The next day, the NCAA canceled winter championships and all sports.
“I don’t think I had ever cried as much as I did in those five days,”said Tori. “It was really over. It went from me trying to figure out a way to play, then realizing I wasn’t, then putting on a good face for my teammates even though I was crushed. And then it was over not just for me, but everybody.”
Now home in Andover, Tori is thankful for everything.
The fact she was able to play two sports in college, a rarity, as a captain and star. She was a two-time first team All-New England in field hockey, scoring 56 goals and 127 points in 74 career games. In softball, she hit .285 with five homers, 31 RBIs and 46 runs in 111 career games.
“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason,” said Tori, who recently graduated from Babson, in an on-line ceremony.
“I went to Babson, which was the best decision I ever made, and it became my second home. My teammates and coaches will always be family to me. I was so blessed and lucky.”
Tori wants to coach
While Tori Roche’s playing career is over, she has decided to continue in competitive sports — as a coach.
She is currently chatting it up with a few schools as a grad assistant beginning in the fall.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” said Roche, who graduated with a degree in business administration at Babson University.
“It would be in field hockey or softball, which I love both. I love the speed of field hockey, running around the field. Softball is a straight turnaround, slower and more mentally challenging. I liked having the balance.”