WINDSOR, N.S. – Last year Tessa Firth, or Tess as many call her, was close to giving up on King’s-Edgehill School’s senior girls' basketball team. This year - she’s a captain.
Firth, now in grade 12 at the school, said she felt that she wasn’t contributing enough to the team’s roster, she felt that it would be best for everyone to move on.
After a heart-to-heart with her coach, which involved an intense conversation about what she brings to table, she realized that giving up wasn’t an option.
“In grade 10 I came to King’s, first of November, and that was the first day that basketball started,” Firth said. “I just show up, I was very scared because I didn’t know anyone, and I just always tried my best from then on.”
In grade 11 she began to doubt her abilities and how much she was contributing to the team, she went to her coach’s classroom, possibly to resign from the team.
“I was struggling with my confidence on the team and I didn’t feel as though I was making an impact on the court or outside the court,” she said. “I went to his office and asked ‘do you even need me on the team?’ I’m going to quit, I don’t feel needed.”
Firth said her coach, Glen Faucher, objected to that concept and highlighted what she brings to the team and turned her spirits around.
“From then on something just changed, it was something that I needed, I needed to just say it out loud,” she said. “At the beginning of this year he said ‘I’d like you to be captain.’ It was something I had to overcome.”
“I think if something is bringing you down, you should go and talk to someone about it, they can help you with it,” she said. “Take a deep breath and talk it out, even though it’s going to be scary.”
Coach’s proudest moment
Glen Faucher, Firth’s basketball coach said that conversation showed real maturity.
“In her second year she wanted to contribute more, and somewhere along the line in the middle of the season she was very frustrated with me and also with herself,” Faucher said. “Just when the chips were about as low as they could be, thinking about quitting, we had a great talk about life and the positives she was bringing to the team.”
He added that Firth played her best basketball for the rest of the year after that point.
“That was a defining moment for her,” he said. “She’s just been an awesome captain, a great leader.”
Firth said she still has lots to learn when it comes to basketball but has made massive strides.
“She’s a team-first person, she always wants to help, she’s very coachable, using the tips I give,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier for Tess.”
He said she also gets “just mad enough” when making an error – not enough to get thrown out of a game, but enough to address the issue in the moment without becoming insecure.
“She’s strong, she’s quick, she’s aggressive,” he said.
Well-rounded student athlete
Tessa Firth has been playing basketball at KES for three years now, but has been active in the sport since she was in grade four.
“If I was just focused on academics, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today,” she said. “Sports has helped me learn so many life lessons. Being on the team, dealing with problems, you learn life lessons from it and I think it’s really important.”
Firth said she always tries to establish close bonds with her teammates on and off the court.
“I’m not necessarily one of the best players on the team, but I just love being the captain off the court as well,” she said.
And it’s not just the basketball court where Firth shines, she’s also very active in rugby, where she’s also a captain, and cross country at the school.
“I find with all of the commitments I have with school and academics, I find that I can just go on the field in rugby and just run and tackle, I love that,” she said. “It’s all about the balance.”
“I’ve been told when I play basketball, people can tell I’m a rugby player,” she said. “If I’m dribbling the ball down the court and a player takes it away, I’ll go back and get a little aggressive, maybe body check them a bit.”
Hailing from Canning, Firth is a day student at the school. She’s enrolled in International Baccalaureate classes, and has a special interest in history, especially The Second World War.
She’s hoping to specialize on the sciences when she attends university, with a focus on the health sciences.
“I really enjoy helping people and problem solving, there’s just something about that,” she said. “Just making them feel good and welcomed, I really just enjoy that.”