GB hockey ace pays tribute to role played by Perse in shaping career
30 Apr 2020
Great Britain hockey star Tess Howard (2017) gave an illuminating insight into how The Perse helped shape her sporting career in the inaugural e-42 lecture.
Carried out remotely via Zoom, more than 50 students and staff logged in to see and hear Tess explain how she had developed into an international hockey player with a major chance of playing for her country at the Tokyo Olympics, delayed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite being inspired by the GB women’s hockey team’s gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Tess recalled how she had never imagined then that she would find herself playing on the same side.
It was only after watching England play in the Women’s Hockey World Cup at the Olympic Park in August 2018 that she decided “this is where I want to be”, and just a few months later, Tess found herself making her GB international debut at the Champions Trophy in China.
Tess outlined that making it to the elite level had taken more than technical and tactical ability or physical fitness. She said qualities such as bravery, resilience, passion and courage had also played a huge part, adding that she continued to be inspired by the words and deeds of “two great dreamers” – suffragist and women’s rights campaigner Millicent Fawcett and boxing legend Muhammad Ali – in her growing career.
However, Tess paid tribute to The Perse for instilling those same qualities in her. As well as enjoying the camaraderie of being part of the school hockey team, she explained how being involved in the Perse Exploration Society, launching the school’s Green Team and having to balance hockey with academic work had played a role in shaping her character.
She said she had made difficult decisions along the way and shown resilience when things were tough, especially when having to catch up on missing double biology and double maths in the Sixth Form to take part in weekly England age group hockey training days.
Tess admitted that it was difficult after being left out of the England squad for the Junior World Cup. However, she channelled her disappointment into her studies and earned three A* grades to gain a place studying geography at Durham University.
“I didn’t think that was possible, but I realised at that moment you can only put boundaries on yourself,” she said. “It’s your character that builds through your experiences and decisions.
“When I first joined the GB programme, those values of passion, bravery and resilience built up through childhood came flooding back to me and I’m so grateful to have had those experiences.”
Tess rounded off the session by answering a wide variety of questions, ranging from who had inspired her most in hockey (Kate Richardson-Walsh) and who was her toughest opponent (GB team-mate Hollie Pearne-Webb) to giving advice on how the school’s young hockey players could continue training during the lockdown.