WOODBRIDGE — Amity three-sport standout Tess Csejka, who excels at field hockey, ice hockey and golf for the Spartans, knew at an early age — a very young age — that she loved sports.
In an era when most high school athletes focus on one sport, Csejka has always loved the challenge of playing multiple sports. On the high school level, she has made an impact in the three sports she focuses on now thanks to her natural ability and strong work ethic.
“Growing up, I didn’t want to focus on just one sport,”Csejka said. “When I was 21/2 years old I started playing for a co-ed youth hockey team, and then, when I was 12, I started playing girls hockey. My dad (Andy) and older brother (Charlie) introduced me to different sports and I wanted to try them all when I was young.
“My dad was great because he allowed me to play any sport I wanted to try and supported me in all those sports. I already played ice hockey but I tried lacrosse, softball and even running. In high school, I knew I’d play girls ice hockey. But I wanted to play a sport all three seasons.
“My freshman year I tried field hockey for the first time and liked it a lot. I wanted to do something in the spring and I tried golf. I liked golf because after the hard work I put in for field hockey and ice hockey, it was nice to end my school year playing a sport that was laid back. Playing three different sports wasn’t hard. The key for me in high school was to stay active all three seasons.”
Csejka is one reason the Spartans are considered one of the early favorites among some SCC coaches to win the conference’s field hockey tournament this season. It also helps that along with Csejka Amity has a strong supporting cast that includes goalies Ana Carney and Peyton Rhan who will both see action.
“As a freshman, ice hockey was her thing,” Amity coach Sara Hale said. “But when she tried out for field hockey we knew she was going to be good. She has that natural ability. You put a stick in her hand, whether it’s field hockey, ice hockey, golf, whatever, and she’ll do it. She was impressive as a freshman. But in her sophomore year her talent took off, she really shot up and got stronger.
“I remember (Cheshire field hockey coach) Eileen Wildermann calling me after the first time she saw her. She was impressed with Tess. She asked me who that player (Csejka) was, and kidding with me said that she wanted her. I said you can’t have her, she’s mine.”
By her junior season, coaches around the state knew how much of an impact Csejka could make on her team. Last season, despite being double and triple teamed, Csejka scored 26 goals and added 11 assists. She led the Spartans to a 13-5-1 record and the CIAC Class L quarterfinals where they lost 4-0 to Cheshire.
“Last year was the first time Tess had to deal with being double and triple teamed, and it was frustrating for her,” Hale said. “But that allowed her to grow the most in the sport. She quickly found out the way to deal with it was to dish the ball off to everyone else, anyone who might be free for a shot. She became a key playmaker for us and she communicated more, which allowed her to contribute even when she didn’t have the ball.
“She has a great sense of the game, she reads defenders well and is explosive to the ball.”
Csejka said she feels a certain amount of pressure to contribute to the team, but it is mostly personal pressure she places on herself.
“Sometimes I think about pressure, but I know my team always has my back,” Csejka said. “Everyone on our team contributes, they all push me so hard and that has helped me improve. “My dad and brother always told me assists are as important as goals. If I’m double teammed I know there has to be someone free and I try to get the ball to that person. I think my strength as a player is my game sense and ice hockey helped with that part of my game. In hockey you need to keep your head up. I do that in field hockey and it helps me pre-scan the field, look ahead of me and see what is developing on defense.”
Growing up, Csejka always thought she would play women’s ice hockey in college. But she loves field hockey so much now she has committed to play the sport at Boston University.
Hale said that with Csejka’s natural ability and her work ethic to be the best, she will fit in well at Boston University.
“When I visited Boston University I fell in love with it,” said Csejka, who would like to be a coach someday. “The coaches and program were a good fit for me. But I love the fact I will be exposed to the versatility of Boston and that will help me prepare for life beyond college.”