When Fairfax senior Tessa Bechert told her friends she'd been named the Virginia 6A female athlete of the year by the Virginia High School League and The Allstate Foundation, they were shocked.
"They were like, 'What?! You didn't even play sports this year,'" Bechert said.
Even while needing 10 months to recover from a concussion, the field hockey, track and lacrosse athlete personified the standard of achievement in athletics and academic activities the award represents.
As a junior, Bechert started for a Rebels field hockey team that won Conference 6 and 6A North region titles. To say she's been active in student government would be an understatement. Bechert was president of the freshman and sophomore class, a senator on the student council as a junior and currently serves as student body president. She said she was named "Most Likely to Brighten Your Day" in the senior superlatives this year. Although she couldn't suit up for her favorite fall sport as a senior, she managed the team, tracked statistics and warmed up the goalies before each game.
To become one of 19 award-winners from a pool of more than 200 students, Bechert had to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better and submit a 500-word application. She will receive a $1,500 scholarship, although she does not yet know where to where she will apply it. Virginia Tech has admitted Bechert, but she said William & Mary let her in on the wait list, and she has to make a decision this week.
On Monday, Bechert was honored at a luncheon at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. There are 52 high schools in VHSL's 6A classification, but the engraved bowl for Male Athlete of the Year will also head back to Fairfax.
Michael Breslin has been a captain as an offensive lineman on the football team, a defender on the lacrosse team and a swimmer competing in the 100-meter butterfly. He is the co-editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Rebel Roar, and has a National NROTC scholarship that will help his family pay tuition at Notre Dame. He is also the Teen Member of the City of Fairfax Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Breslin said Fairfax produced two achievement award winners because it has such a tight-knit community.
"One of our mottos is, 'We are Fairfax. We are family.' Our principal says it on the announcements all the time in the morning," Breslin said.
Being an athlete has taught Breslin how to have "tough conversations" with his teammates and his coworkers. He referenced learning from failure and persuading peers to do more as two huge takeaways.
"Someone's not working hard in practice or they're not showing up, you have to talk to them and tell them we're all trying to accomplish this one goal," Breslin said. "If we had a problem with the paper, like if a picture didn't work or the quotes we got weren't that great, you've got to get someone on the same page."
While Breslin continues to manage the newspaper, Bechert has one final project she hopes will be her legacy at Fairfax.
After lobbying for approval from police, school administration and county officials, she has organized a 5K focused on mental health to help students relieve the stress of final exams. Fairfax will host the Live Life in Color Run on June 3. Participants will cut loose by pelting each other with colored corn starch powder along the way.
There was a time when entering the principal's office to pitch an event made Bechert nervous. After four years in athletics and student government, that apprehension has faded away.
"That just doesn't scare me anymore. There's a trust between me and the administration. There's a trust between me and the student body," Bechert said. "That's pretty cool that I will be remembered at Fairfax High School."
NUMBER CRUNCH: 7
Washington area boys and girls named Under Armour all-Americans on Tuesday as part of the event's third wave of selections.
- John Kalavritinos leads Landon to a second straight Metros golf title
- Good Counsel hires Clarksburg’s G.J. Kissal as new boys’ basketball coach
- Madison taps into youth as Virginia 6A North region girls’ lacrosse tournament starts
- Hughes brothers come up big for South Lakes as Va. boys’ lacrosse region playoffs begin
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The postseason is in full swing around the area. Gabe Hiatt (@Gabecito) will be covering the PVAC baseball championship featuring Sandy Spring Friends and St. Anselm's. Brandon Parker (@brandoncparker) will be at the MAC baseball final between Maret at Potomac School. Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) will be at the cross-county girls' lacrosse showdown between Broadneck and Leonardtown. Eric Goldwein (@EricGoldweinWP) will be in Howard County tracking the Mount Hebron and River Hill boys' lacrosse game.