When Tess Howard made her international hockey debut in 2018, it was clear for all to see that she was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Injury however prevented her from fulfilling her dream of going to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Now back training with the squad, Tess is determined to make a grand comeback at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for Team England. She is more than deserving of being a Team England Generation 22 athlete.
Tess started playing hockey when she was 10, almost by accident, but swiftly became obsessed.
"Girls weren't allowed to play rugby" she said,
"So I stopped playing rugby and went to the hockey pitch fell in love with it.
"I really just found myself every day whenever I could go out I was on a hockey pitch playing."
Tess heralds from Cambridge and considers her home extremely integral to her development as a hockey player, mixing it with senior players from a very young age.
"I am very grateful to have teachers who saw something in me, and encouraged me to keep playing.
"I then started playing ladies hockey when I was 14," she says with a wry smile on her face;
"I remembered it was quite funny, I got stuck up front and got told to just go score goals, that was my job! I just got addicted to doing my job for the team, and at that age, it was scoring.
"I then continued progressing through the system as a teenager, making life-long friends with people who were 10 years older than me.
"Yeah, where I grew up was incredibly important to my sporting success."
Tess is known for her never-give-up attitude. However, this has been truly tested in the last 12 months with a severe injury which she describes as the biggest challenge she has ever had to face.
"The biggest challenge in my career is one that I am actually still going through" Tess explains;
"3 months before the Olympics I ruptured my ACL."
"Now I am months down the line in rehab I see everything differently. It's been an eye-opening experience.
However, never one to be too down she immediately perks up with excitement when asked about what is to come in the next year!
"Ah well...!" she exclaims;
"In the next year I will be back playing hockey, hopefully competing for Team England.
"On a personal note I just can't wait to be back on the pitch doing the thing that I love."
As Tess mentions, she has her sights firmly set on a triumphant return to hockey at the Commonwealth Games, and the opportunity to represent Team England at a home Games in Birmingham is one that she is relishing.
"It gives me goosebumps! To compete in front of a home crowd, after the last two years and everything that everyone in this country has been through it's going to be amazing."
"Having the support around us, friends, family and that crowd support, it's going to be super inspiring to run out on the pitch and see the flags waving, it's going to be something very special."
It has been incredibly special to see Tess returning to practise with her teammates this week on social media. It is clear for all to see she is a popular member of the squad and her presence has been missed. We are really looking forward to following her journey back and hopefully running out at Birmingham 2022.