By Isla Patrick
The Varsity Girls Water Polo team kicked off the two-day Tessa Joy Memorial Invitational Tournament on Oct. 7. The team played its first game against Leigh High School, dominating them with a score of 13-8. A low-stakes opportunity for the girls to have fun playing their sport while remembering Tessa Joy Davis, a former LGHS varsity water polo player, the Tessa Joy Tournament has no impact on the team’s position as first in the league
Coach Don Appleton started the tournament in Davis’ memory in 2015 and both the Girls’ Junior Varsity and Varsity Water Polo teams have participated every year since. Davis, who was a member of the class of 2015, passed away at age 17 due to a rare form of lung cancer the January before her classmates graduated. She was a varsity water polo player in her junior and senior years, and team captain of the JV team in her sophomore year. The cap number she used, number seven, is now retired. Those who were lucky enough to have Davis in their lives recall that she was happiest when she was in the pool. Spectators across the pool deck wear purple each year, the color representing the type of cancer Davis suffered from, to honor her memory during the tournament. Purple balloons also floated at each corner of the pool.
Senior Ainsley Watkins stated “it’s fun seeing everyone coming to the tournament wearing purple for Tessa. She meant a lot to the team, so it’s cool when the community comes to honor her while we play the sport she loved so much.” Watkins definitely encapsulated Davis’ spirit during both games on Friday with her enthusiastic plays.
Junior goalie Rachel Stephens let in a few goals at the beginning of the game, but quickly destroyed any hope Leigh had of winning in the second quarter, undoubtedly intimidating the opponents with her numerous blocks. She said about Davis, “the legacy Tessa left was the power of joy. Everyone who knew her said how joyful she was and how much she embodied joy. This year is one of the first years where nobody on the team ever got to meet her, so it’s super cool that we still talk about her.”
Although the varsity girls and their spectators enjoyed competing against Leigh, the highlight of the night was celebrating the life of Davis. After all, the motto of the tournament is “unleash your Joy”—both a pun on Davis’ name and a reminder to play and live with the same joyful spirit the water polo star did.