Medford Tech senior Tess Mauro just joined the varsity football team as the only female player.
Though Tess Mauro always loved football, no one ever asked her if she wanted to play the sport herself.
Now a senior at Medford Vocational Technical High School, Mauro has decided to join the varsity football team at Medford High as the only female player – and she’s loving every minute of it.
“I have scoliosis, so I never thought I could play,” Mauro said. “But I got a clearance from my doctor to play last year, so I decided that this year was my senior year and I always wanted to play, so I just did it.”
At tryouts earlier this year, Mauro was surprised to find that she was the only female student going out for the team. Though tryouts were very physically demanding, her experience playing softball and running track helped her get through them.
“Tess really impressed us with her determination and toughness,” said Head Coach Jason Nascimento. “She was really adamant about being a part of the team and did a great job throughout the preseason.”
Mauro is no stranger to being the only woman in the room (or on the field). At Medford Tech, she studies carpentry, and throughout her freshman year, she was the only girl in that program.
“Once I started to feel comfortable doing carpentry, it helped me to the point where it wasn’t weird to join a group of all boys,” she said.
The players and male coaches have also been supportive of her joining, treating her as they would any other player.
“There’s no guy on the team that doesn’t want me there,” Mauro said. “They love to see me there, and they love to help me and make me feel comfortable. They’re just great guys in general.”
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A self-described tomboy, Mauro grew up in an all-female household and primarily around women; her mother is a hairdresser, and she and her sister were part of a dance team for girls. Her family was initially a little anxious when she told them she wanted to play football, but they accepted it when they saw her passion for the sport.
“My family knows how much I love it,” Mauro said. “They know me as a person and they know that this is something I would do. It’s something I was kind of destined to do, so they’re very supportive of me.”
Her love for the game comes through in her performance, according to Nascimento.
“She’s played some defensive back and receiver. She hasn’t had any starts thus far, but that doesn’t get her down,” he said. “She shows up every single day ready to work to not only better herself, but to better her teammates.”
For Mauro, the most rewarding part about being on the team is the knowledge that she could inspire other girls and women to play as well.
“At the end of the day, maybe after a scrimmage or a game, if I take my helmet off and I see a little girl looking up at me and smiling, it just makes me feel good,” she said.
After graduation, Mauro plans to work as a carpenter in the area, attending football games at Medford High as often as she can.
“I’ll always be here to cheer on the boys,” she said.