Skidmore College 2016
Tess Mattimore started playing for Tenacity when it felt more like a ragged band of ambitious revolutionaries. She was in sixth grade and had been playing since second, the year her family moved from New Jersey to the Bay Area. Her first team, the Southern Marin Puppettes, was not big. At first, it was called a developmental team until Tess’s mother said they needed a name with a little more confidence and pizzazz. When she graduated to Tenacity, the intensity picked up, but still the teams were mixed grade, a hodge podge of girls coming together for the opportunity to play a game they loved.
Ten years later, Tenacity has gone non-profit and expanded to Portland, Houston and Sacramento. Tess is a senior at Skidmore, a captain of her lacrosse team, the treasurer of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and a business major. She already has a job lined up at IBM Consulting in New York City. I guess we’re all growing up!
How did you end up at Skidmore? How did you know it was the right fit?
I was initially thinking about walking on at a DI program like Villanova or Marquette, but I was getting a little frustrated with the process and a little burnt out. Then Theresa recommended I go to Elite 180, which is the big DIII recruiting camp at Keane College, and I loved it. It’s mostly focused on games, rather than skill sessions, which is really fun, and the coaches rotate through teams, so you get to work with three different DIII coaches. That’s where I initially met my current coach. She emailed me expressing interest and my mom convinced me to visit Saratoga and go on an official visit at Skidmore, so I went, saw the town, met the team and fell in love with it. I really liked the size of the school and the academics.
What’s your favorite thing about playing there?
I like having a team and a group of girls that I know have my back on campus. It was so nice coming into college with a set group of friends, even though I’ve made of lot of friends outside of the team. It just took a lot of the pressure off, because the transition freshmen year can be so challenging. And it’s nice having an activitiy that creates a routine in my life and gives me the opportunity to take a break from academics.
Your sisters, Kate and Annie, also played for BearLax and for your high school team. What was it like playing with them in high school?
It was so much fun. My senior year, they were both on varsity as well—as a freshmen and a sophomore. Our school wrote an article on us because we had the most siblings on a team at one time. I don’t think it’s an official record, but people kept saying that. I love my sisters to death. They’re two of my best friends. Annie played defense, and Kate and I both played attack. It was like Kate knew what I was thinking on the field. I probably assisted her on half of her goals. It was a great team dynamic. Sometimes, it could be a problem because you’re harder on your sisters, you don’t really filter what you say to them.
Were you competitive with each other?
Yes and no. We worked really well together, and we just wanted to see each other succeed. Kate is an amazing lacrosse player. She got All American her junior or sophomore year. It can be hard sometimes yelling at her to pass the ball, but moreso we always just tried to push each other rather than being competitive with each other.
Have you run into any obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your time as a player?
I’m a very heady player, a very mental player. I sometimes psych myself out, which can be worse than a physical challenge depending on how you look at it. You can’t do physical therapy to fix it. Sometimes, I need to gain some perspective, remind myself who I’m playing for and why I like lacrosse. Take a step back and say, it’s just lacrosse. Have fun. Don’t take it too seriously. You think it’s this huge life altering thing that’s going to make or break your day, your month, your year, and at the end of the day it’s just a game. You can only do as much as you can do. My coach always tells me to stop overanalyzing everything that’s going on.
What are you into outside of lacrosse? What do you do for fun?
I’m the treasurer of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, SAAC. We work on being a liaison between athletics and the rest of the community, and making athletics a bigger part of campus life. Skidmore is a pretty artsy school, so athletic pride isn’t always a focus. We work on that.
Outside of lacrosse and school, I love to read and I love to travel. I went abroad to Florence junior year and I also coached lacrosse in South Africa for two summers. It was an amazing experience. Pretty crazy trying to teach lacrosse to people who don’t speak English. We had a couple of translators, but for the most part it was me trying to act out what I wanted them to do.
How did you get into coaching in South Africa?
My teammate and best friend, Emma Harris, wanted to coach lacrosse abroad and do a community service trip. She started googling and found the South African Lacrosse Project. It was started by two brothers from Maryland. Their former nanny was from the Limpopo region, so they went to visit her and brought their own lacrosse sticks, and the kids got really into it. That was ten years ago, I think. So they kept bringing more lacrosse sticks and eventually started this week long camp. Now, the locals have lacrosse practices year round.
What did you take away from your Tenacity experience?
Well, we have a different experience than girls growing up on the east coast. Here, you get this great opportunity to travel with the team and learn to take care of yourself. I’m a middle child. My parents didn’t travel with me. They were always kind of like, “okay Tess, good luck!” It taught me independence and time management. And then I liked the community aspect of it. Lacrosse on the west coast feels so small. When I was in high school, I knew everyone in the area who played lacrosse. I’d most likely played on a team with them. I love the Tenacity community and being exposed to people from all over the Bay Area whom I would have never met without club lacrosse.
It’s crazy for me to see where the club is now compared to when I started. When I started it was mixed years and Theresa would send us to tournaments in these janky uniforms. She would sign one team up as two teams so we would get more playing time, get the most bang for our buck. It was great. It was so fun. It’s amazing to see how established Teancity is now and to see the growth of lacrosse on the west coast.
April 21, 2016
Written By: Courtney Bird