Athlete of the Issue: Tess Despres ’14

Tess Despres on the Lax FieldTess Despres ’14 has had an outstanding athletic career at Groton, having been on varsity lacrosse and soccer for three years. She says she “can’t imagine life without her sports,” because it’s a major stress reliever for her. Tess excels at being a defensive player in both soccer and lacrosse, and she loves not just playing these sports, but also bonding with her team members. It wouldn’t be the same experience to Tess without team dinners and runs that connect her with teammates.

Tess played for her varsity soccer team in middle school, and as a new fourth former, came onto the Groton team in the position of center defense. Tess describes herself as having played soccer “for as long as [she] can remember.” Her coach, Mr. Spring, says that “Tess was incredibly reliable, both as a player and as a teammate for her peers. She was a great role model, and she played her best in our most important matches.” Sophie DiCara ’16 knew that she could always count on Tess at the center of the defense. All of Tess’s teammates agree that her encouragement and positivity helped everyone move past tough plays. As shown in the challenging game against Tabor, Tess doesn’t give up easily and supports her teammates until the end. “We’ll miss her maturity next year and her selfless leadership,” Mr. Spring says. This season, the Girls Varsity Soccer team advanced two rounds into the New England playoffs because of every player’s perseverance and strength. The team had a strong finish to the season, though they were eliminated by the talented Tabor Academy team. To culminate the end of her soccer season, Tess participated in the customary cart-pull and was tossed next to the St. Mark’s day bonfire.

This winter, Tess conducted a skiing FSA with Teddy Ogilvie-Thompson, Axel Brown, and Jack Tyler. They drove to Wachusett Mountain and skied for several hours, three times a week. In the past, she has participated in winter running and also IIIs Squash. Tess initiated her FSA idea because she has skied for thirteen years of her life. In middle school, Tess was the captain of her competitive downhill skiing team. Skiing is definitely her favorite winter activity. Once she organized it, she gathered three others who had the same idea, and had an extremely successful FSA. Since the four of them all had grown up skiing, they all loved it. Tess held friendly competitions with all of them, and they bonded through skiing. Wachusett is a small mountain that is groomed quite frequently, and the freshly groomed snow set the stage for one of Tess’s favorite winter memories. On that occasion, she zoomed down the mountain at nearly 65 miles per hour, feeling free with the wind whipping against her body but gravity pulling her down the trail. She describes this and all other skiing trips as “terrifying, but also super fun.” Tess went with skiing friends on surprise holiday to Sunapee Mountain. If people were interested in the same FSA for the future, “it’d definitely be a manageable and worthwhile FSA,” Tess says.

This spring, Tess served her third year as the Groton lacrosse goalie. Lacrosse is her favorite sport, and she’s played it for more than seven years. Along with playing for Groton teams, she has also participated in a club team called Revolution since Fifth Form. Amazingly, she balanced her academics with intense weekly practices and games located an hour away from Groton. Lacrosse is a huge part of Tess’s life; she will continue to play as a goalie for Harvey-Mudd College next year. Being a lacrosse goalie is a stressful position, serving as the last barrier the ball has to surpass. Tess says that “being a lacrosse goalie is mentally draining because the odds are extremely against you, but blocking a shot is so satisfying that it makes up for the missed saves.” Tess advises that one “can’t dwell on mistakes during the game, but learn from them to do better in the next game.” Using her extensive knowledge about the sport to guide others, Tess served as “an incredible mentor” for Sophie DiCara ’16. Sophie learned “basically everything [she] knows about being a goalie” from Tess. Tess was always supportive and kind in correcting Sophie’s mistakes. “You are such a force in the goal and I am honored to play with you on defense,” writes Luna Goodale, ’15 on her goodbye poster to Tess. “It was always so reassuring having your voice behind me,” writes Dorrie Varley-Barrett ’15. Randi Dumont, assistant coach of Varsity Girls Lacrosse, says, “Tess is such an impact player—she has the ability to change the momentum of the game. She’s a difference maker.” Tess is unquestionably an asset to the Groton Girls Lax team, always bringing positivity and encouragement to her teammates.

Tess says she’s in shock that her high school career is over, and that she’ll be playing with completely different people next year. She has learned so much from her teams at Groton. Undoubtedly, Tess will be sorely missed on the soccer and lacrosse fields next year, and her teammates at Harvey-Mudd will soon learn how lucky they are to have her.

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