Tess Howard is on a rapid rise with England
Young hockey star makes huge progress
Tess Howard has made huge strides on the international hockey scene this year – and the biggest leap could still be to come this summer.
The 18-year-old has had a whirlwind three years, with The Perse School student making the step up from England’s under-16s to the under-18s and now into the under-21s.
And it shows no sign of slowing any time soon after she was named in the England squad for the EuroHockey Junior Championships at the end of August.
“Last September I was asked to join the under-21 development group, the GB development group and that was a complete surprise,” said Howard.
“They had the world cup in October/November; I had concussion and wasn’t really ready for it.
“I went down to the under-18s again and was able to rebuild confidence and understand why I wanted to play hockey again – reconnect with why it’s so great.
“The under-18s is such a nice group, great coaches. They said that they would talk to me after the Holland series in Easter about under-21s. So it has definitely exceeded my expectations.”
Howard, who plays her club hockey for Cambridge City, captained the England under-18s in their test series against Holland and Wales at Easter.
And by the summer, she was representing England under-21s, scoring on her debut against Scotland in June.
Series against Ireland, Belgium and Holland have followed, with the squad achieving a national first along the way.
“We beat Holland for the first time ever in English junior history, it was crazy – it’s why I’m so excited about our team,” said Howard.
“We have three test matches in a series, the first one was really close but we lost 1-0, we were buzzing for the next game and we won that 1-0, and the reaction was just awesome because even the Dutch girls were saying congratulations to us.
“We had never in junior hockey beaten the Dutch so that was very cool.”
And that was another part of a vital learning curve for Howard.
“I learn so much every time I play, especially understanding what your role in the team is, which is really important,” she said.
“Against Holland, your entire game strategy – personally and as a team – completely changes because they are so good you have to raise your game even more, so I constantly learn in every game and training session.”
The EuroHockey Junior Championships are at the end of the month in Valencia, but first, England face Germany in a series of matches in Shropshire.
“We will go in with an open mind to Germany and if we are successful then we should go into the Euros with utmost confidence to be one of the teams to beat,” said Howard.
As well as her success on the international scene, Howard was a key part of The Perse teams that reached the indoor and outdoor national finals, but she is now leaving to go to university.
“It’s been a great year – I’m a bit sad I’ve left now but it’s been a great way to leave, that we were able to go to two national finals,” said the inside forward/midfielder.
“I can’t put into words how much The Perse has done for me, supporting me with technical stuff because the head coach of Cambridge City Ladies, Ross Hayward, was our coach at school as well.
“And Mr Peckett as well did so much with me individually.
“And they also support me mentally and emotionally – I have so many mentors there, like Mr Morgan, so it’s such a great environment that I’m sad to leave.”
But as she reflects on a whirlwind time, Howard is keeping her feet firmly on the floor with regards to the future.
“I’m really proud,” she said. “It’s been a crazy last three years because I’ve gone under-16s, under-18s and under-21s in three consecutive years so the standard has just escalated so quickly. It’s just great.
“My thought process is to see where it goes but continue enjoying it because that’s why I do it.
“I love it and I’m with some of my best friends, and you play your best hockey when you’re happy.”