Editor’s note: This profile on Tessie Thompson ’03 is the 12th in a 13-part series by Valerie Turgeon ’13 on the alumni who will be inducted into the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 19. Read a new profile every day in tommiesports.com.
Tessie Thompson ’03 looked up to her older sisters, wanting to do whatever they were doing. And they played soccer.
With good role models came a strong work ethic, and Thompson became a key player on the St. Thomas soccer team a dozen years ago.
“I chose to play soccer at St. Thomas because I knew they had a reputation for always being one of the top teams in the MIAC, and it was a place where I could compete at a high level,” she said. “At the same time, being at a Division III school, I knew that I would not have to compromise my academics in order to play a high level of soccer.”
In Thompson’s era, St. Thomas went 51-17-8, including a 26-2-2 record in MIAC play over her final three seasons. Thompson’s 84 career points (35 goals, 14 assists) were the fifth most in St. Thomas history when she graduated.
During her senior year, the Tommies made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA playoffs, which she considers her highlight accomplishment.
A two-time soccer captain and four-year starter, Thompson received numerous awards and recognition. She was a two-time All-America and an Academic All-America, one of just two St. Thomas soccer players to receive multiple honors. She was second-team honoree in 2001 and a first-team pick in 2002, a two-time All-Region pick and three-time all-conference honoree. She was also chosen as Minnesota’s representative for the 2003 NCAA Woman of the Year competition.
As a senior in 2002, Thompson was voted conference most valuable player after she led the MIAC in scoring with 25 points (including 10 goals) in 11 games en route to her team’s co-championship. St. Thomas reached the NCAA playoff quarterfinals and battled eventual NCAA champion Ohio Wesleyan to a 0-0 tie through two overtimes before losing in a shootout tie-breaker.
Along with athletic and academic achievements (she graduated with a 3.67 GPA in biology) she was also active in community service as a campus tutor, nursing home volunteer, disabled youth volunteer and a youth soccer coach.
Soccer is still part of Thompson’s life, and it was by coaching during her last year at St. Thomas that she met her husband, John Sylvester.
“I met my match with someone who was actually more enthralled with the game than I was!” she said.
John and Tessie have two sons, Gus (3) and Freddy (1). Thompson said Gus is already starting to play soccer.
Tessie practices as a dentist in the public health field, having graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School in 2008.
About her induction in the Hall of Fame, Thompson said: “I have very fond memories of my time spent on the field in my years at St Thomas and I am excited that my achievements, which are a reflection of the achievements of the teams I was a part of, are being recognized.”
She is thankful for the support of her parents, who attended nearly every game, and siblings who were her “loudest cheering section.
“I would like to thank my husband, John, who was there for my senior year and was a constant source of insight and encouragement,” she said. “Without my family I would never have accomplished the things that I have in soccer and in life.”
Thompson becomes just the third female soccer player inducted into the Hall and first in the last 15 years.
Jake Barkley 2003 Football
Nikki Conway 2006 Softball
Roman Cress 2003 Track & Field
Carrie Embree 2007 Softball, Basketball
Jane Gibbs-Becker 2004 Volleyball
Kristal Grigsby 2006 Track & Field
Andrew Hilliard 2003 Track & Field, Football
Diane Loughlin Urick 1989 Track & Field, Cross Country
Janet Nagle 2006 Softball
Steve Pignato 1997 Baseball
Isaac Rosefelt 2007 Basketball
Tessie Thompson 2003 Soccer
Michelle Wong 2005 Softball