TESS ADAMS: CALGARYIAN RHAPSODY

Cetacean Nation rememberers walking into Terry Conners Rink during our You Can Play game, and immediately being impressed by the amazing uniforms the Pod were wearing for the game. Almost immediately, we were also impressed by the unprecedented growth spurt of our #8 since the previous game. The special uniforms had been ordered prior to some roster and line-up changes, “growing” #8 four inches in height practically overnight. But in reality, it was not Colleen Murphy in that sweater that game, but one of the newest Whale, Tess Adams. The next thing any of the fans were impressed by was the the game of our new forward, as Tess had a solid debut and made her presence known. But there was a little more to the story of why Tess chose wear #8 in her debut. “Growing up my favorite player was Matthew Lombardi. He played for the Calgary Flames and wore number 18. He was my favorite player to watch because he had so much speed and got around the defenders and this was similar to my game. I started wearing number 18 because of him and I stuck with that ever since. When transferring to Suffolk University, 18 was already taken. I hadn’t had a new number in over 8 years so I had a tough time trying to pick. My best friend at canton was transferring with me and she was number 16, at Suffolk that number was also taken. We sat around trying to think of numbers we both liked and we wanted to be close in the line up together. We somehow came up with 26 and 28 and they were both available so that’s what we decided to be. It was almost our same numbers but a 2 instead of a 1. Getting ready for my first NWHL game I had to pick between 20 and 8 because I had to wear someone else’s jersey since they were special jerseys. I decided to wear 8 since it has always been a part of my number.”

Tess hails from Calgary, up in the province of Alberta, almost 4,000 miles from Terry Conners Rink, and Cetacean Nation spoke with Tess about her journey eastbound and down. Cetacean Nation fans know that many of the Pod also serve as coaches in various educational institutions and enterprises. One of them is our #5, Kim Tiberi, who is the Assistant Coach at Suffolk University Women’s Hockey in Boston. And this year, one of her charges was Tess Adams, and sometimes just like that, Whale happens. Tess explained to us “When I found out Kim was playing for the Whale I was super excited and interested in trying to play there next year. Beginning of the year we went to one of her games in Boston and it made me even more interested. I jokingly mentioned to her to say something to the coach about me. Later on, I asked how she got onto the team and she told me she built a hockey resume and sent it to the coach. She forwarded me hers and I used it to help make my own. At the end of January I sent out the resume to Coach Ryan. He then reached out to Kim about me, and asked more about how I played, and he was interested. He told her that when my season was over I could come out and practice with the Whale. My season (at Suffolk) ended on a Saturday night and by Tuesday I was already practicing with the Whale. It was a quick but very exciting turn around.” Cetacean Nation wondered about handling the logistics of such a quick transition, and asked Tess about that. Her reply shows why our Pod is a special destination for hockey players. Tess told us “ For my first practice Emily Fluke, Kim Tiberi, Sarah Schwenzfeier and I, are car pooled from Boston to Norwalk together. They told me that they do this for just about every practice during the season and take turns driving. We only did it that one time because after that we would all stay at Kim’s mom's house, since practice was on Friday and we had games on the weekend.” Cetacean Nation mentioned previously our positive impressions of Tess’ performance that day, and we were curious how the game seemed to her. She offered “During my first game I was very nervous but excited. The speed of the game was a big adjustment to what I was used to playing. It was incredible to see how much skill and talent was on the ice. It was really neat to play against a couple of Olympians on the Pride too.”

Just as every rhapsody has its beginning, even sometimes a prelude, and so does ours composed in Calgary, Alberta, almost 4,000 miles from Terry Conners Rink, As Cetacean Nation spoke with Tess about her journey eastbound and down, we asked her to tell us a little about her start in a life of hockey. She thought back and said “When I was very young I was always really sick and didn’t sleep much during the night. My parents enjoyed hockey since that was the big sport in Calgary, so it was normally on the TV at night. When I would wake up crying, my parents noticed that when they put me in front of the TV while a hockey game was on, I would instantly stop crying and start watching the game.” After bonding with the flashing blades and sticks on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts, the next phase seemed pre-ordained. Tess reminisced, saying “ Down the road they used to build an outdoor rink, and being a Canadian everyone learns to skate at a very young age. My parents took out my sister and I but the focus was getting my sister to skate. I complained about not being out there and wanted to try, so my parents put my skates on and I started skating by myself right away. My mom decided to put me into figure skating since I was a girl. I did figure skating lessons for one year but I complained how cold I was on the ice and that it hurt every time I fell. I told my parents I wanted to play hockey and they signed me up the following year.” Once she joined a team and started playing, it was at the forward positions, and remained so throughout her career. Well, almost. Tess revealed “ One year in Atom we didn’t have enough D on our team so the coach asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to play D so I did. I played one season and complained about how much I didn’t like it. My coach was always yelling at me to stay back because I would always be right up in the play with the forwards and I hated standing on the blue line in the O zone. My dad knew I was making the wrong decision but he let me figure it out for myself. I knew I never wanted to be a D again “

And it was during her early career that little Tess became an NHL fan, and a Penguins fan at that. Cetacean Nation wondered how that came about, and Tess said “During Bantam I got a really bad concussion and was out for 5 months and couldn’t do anything. While I had my concussion, Sidney Crosby had his concussion too. I followed his recovery and it made me feel better about taking the much needed time to rest rather then going back to early. I started following Crosby’s journey and I began to watch the Penguins play more and more.”  Tess continued “Watching them play, Kris Letang caught my attention as being one of the better players on the Penguins. I liked his playing style even though he was a D. He was fast, and was always getting involved in the O zone and jumping up into the play, I really liked that about him.” Tess added this about her early days in sport: “Growing up I liked to play every sport. One of the first sports I played was soccer and then I realized by the time I was 12 I didn’t like it anymore. Throughout Junior High I played basketball, volleyball, badminton, flag football and ran cross country. I always enjoyed being very active and having a busy schedule. I played lacrosse a couple summers but I had to stop because I had the concussions and I didn’t want to ruin my future in hockey.” Club or organization hockey is important everywhere, but espespcially so in places where there is not an interscholastic league system. The Province of Alberta is like that, and we asked Tess to shed some light on that for the fans. She gave us this accounting of how that worked in her case. “ In Alberta we don’t have high school hockey. We have a female league that has AAA being the best which is similar to travel hockey and then we have an A league and a B league. AAA is the most competitive as we travel all over Alberta playing other AAA teams. I played AAA in grade 11 and grade 12. After grade 12, I went to Banff Hockey Academy which was in Banff, Alberta and it was similar to a prep school.”  Tess’ continued success at Banff Hockey Academy, where she captained their squad, paved the way to her next stop. That would be to in the USA, at SUNY-Canton in upstate New York.

We asked Tess about her experiences at Canton, both on and off the ice. Tess averaged better than a point per game while skating for the ‘Roos, and was All League her three seasons there. She was rookie of the year as a freshman, and Captain of her squad as a junior, but it was not all a bed of roses. Tess related a tale filled with mixed feelings. “Canton was a lot of fun and a lot of my favorite memories come from there and I am still really close with all the friends I have made there. My sophomore season was the best season there. Our team was really close and there was little to no drama. Everyone got along and we had a very successful season. Going into my junior year there were a lot of things going on and lots of conflicts on the team. Hockey wasn’t the same anymore. I used to dread going to practice and I was falling out of love with hockey. I realized that I didn’t want to spend my last year there after such a horrible season. I reached out to Taylor Wasylk at Suffolk who was my assistant coach for my first two years at Canton and we discussed the possibilities of me transferring there. I always looked up to her and she was always a huge inspiration to me so I was excited everything worked out and it felt so good to be on a successful team with so much support from everyone” That was a fortuitous chain of events for Tess, Suffolk and ultimately the Whale.

However there was an interesting evolution in the classroom for Tess, and she explained it this way. “When finishing high school, I wanted to be a PT (Physical Therapist) but I never had the grades for it, so my next interest was to be a detective. When I first got to Canton I was in the Criminal Justice program but after the first semester I knew I didn’t want to do this. A girl on my team was in the PT assistant program and said how great of a program it was. It sparked my interest and I read more into it. My second semester freshman year I took science class to improve my grades and I applied for the program. I got accepted during the summer after my freshman year. I graduated the program at the end of my Junior year. After taking the assistants program I knew I wanted to be a PT and in order to go to PT school I need to get a Bachelor's degree.” Tess continued “I got accepted into the biology program at Suffolk and took that my first semester of being there. I found a hard time doing good in my classes when I had no interest in it. To complete the biology degree you have to take organic chemistry and I have heard how difficult that class is. I looked at multiple PT schools and saw that it wasn’t a prerequisite so I didn’t need to take it. I looked at other programs at Suffolk and found there was a sociology program based on health careers. I sat down with the head of the department and found that people who take this program go to med school and PT school so this was the right fit for me and it didn’t affect my credits.”

Tess’ career as a college hockey player is complete, and her career in the NWHL has begun. She reached the 100 career point total this year for Suffolk. And with 18 goals and 14 assists in 26 games, she continued her better than a point per game scoring pace, But our two sport athlete Tess is still matriculating at Suffolk, and has eligibility remaining in her other sport, golf. So she will hit the links this spring with the Rams. She explained “During the summer in Calgary I worked maintenance at a golf course. Once working there I gained an interest in golf and would go out with everyone I worked with about once a week. I started to really enjoy the game and being so competitive, I wanted to be good at it. When I got to Canton they were just starting a golf team and were looking for people to play so they asked the hockey team. Since I gained a new love for golf I decided to play. My head coach, Kevin was one of the best coaches I have ever had, so it made playing that sport one of the best experiences in college. When coming to Suffolk I wanted to spend my last year focusing on hockey since golf interferes with pre season. But since I have another year at Suffolk I am playing on the golf team.” 

Cetacean Nation appreciates Tess taking the time to let us get to know her a little bit, And we look forward to hearing more of  her Calgaryian Rhapsody and seeing it played out on the stages of the NWHL arenas next season with the Whale. Fins Up!