By Sarah Beagley
This Friday night, our very own co-president and OG Seagal Tess Beagley will run out with her women’s side as the second ever female player to play 50 games at the club.
With limited footy options for young girls in her hometown of Coburg, Tess grew up playing basketball and netball. She finished most games leading the score count and bruise count for her team, with an iconic fierceness and attacking game-style that was hard to beat.
When her family moved across to Williamstown during her high school years, Tess jumped on the opportunity to join in on some trainings with the CYs – who were in the midst of starting up their inaugural women’s team.
“I wanted to try a new sport and learn something new,” Tess remembers, “CY’s was the first to respond to my messages and when (previous president and CYs player) Steph Payne is so genuinely excited to have you down, you just can’t say no.”
Tess’ first footy game was during the women’s preseason grading tournament in 2017, where from the first bounce it became clear to coach Lawrence Henry that she would become a strong and reliable leader for the team.
Even better, it was clear to Tess that she’d found exactly what she’d been looking for. “I remember going to grab the water and the other stuff that day to bring it over to the bench. Someone who I didn’t know told me not to worry about it – just to go and play footy and they would bring it all over. The immediate feeling of community was insane.”
Tess went on to start her first CYs season as a full forward, kicking 3 goals in her first match and later kicking some walls when she looked up the stats and realised the goals had accidently been credited to her sister Sarah.
She soon transitioned into the backline when her team needed a loud and commanding presence down back, often playing an incredible shut down (and mind game) role on the best opposition forward despite the usual 5-10 year discrepancy in footy experience.
She credits learning her game-winning backline bandit ways from watching her footy idol, Jimmy Webster. “When St Kilda was shit, and I mean really shit in like 2014, Jimmy was this tiny little scrawny defender who went toe to toe with the likes of Roughy, Hawkins and Buddy. He tried his lil heart out – you can’t ask for anything more.”
Tess was also a pivotal defender come finals time, and was selected for every match in the Seagals’ four finals campaigns in four seasons. Coming just one goal short of the flag in 2019, Tess remains hungry for that long awaited womens’ premiership. “Sadly that grand final loss against Therry and the sound of the final siren cutting off a huge fourth quarter run lives rent-free in my mind. To get so close and not finish the job, it really fuels you to keep going until you’re on the other side.”
The second place streak continued in the coming years for Tess, being the second female president at the club and the second female player to reach 50 games. I kindly took the liberty to remind her of these close calls, and asked whether it made her any hungrier for just one first place finish. “Absolutely not”, Tess explains, “Scarlett was so deserving to get there first – she is the most underrated and consistent player I’ve ever met. Her connection to the CYs runs deep and I’m so proud of what she was able to achieve in such a small time. However, lets just say, the race to 100 is on”.
Not to worry, Tess’ trophy cabinet has been pretty nicely stocked up while she awaits that premiership medallion, with most awards coming as a result of a winning personality more so than elite footy skills (her words I swear).
Tess was awarded the inaugural Temby/Payne medal at the end of the 2021 season, an award given to the female player voted by her teammates as best representing the blue and gold values, both on an off the field. She also won the 2021 Best Clubman award for her work in the committee, where she lead the social functions and community relationships portfolios.
Tess was elected vice-captain by her team from 2019-2021, and stepped down from the leadership group (so to speak) in 2022 when she was elected into the ultimate leadership position as co-President of the club.
Needless to say, Tess juggles presidency and playing with a degree of skill and precision that has literally left most onlookers’ jaws on the ground. “Arguably doing both is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done”. (Just for context – she did an applied Maths degree – yet this takes the difficultly cake ?!).
Inevitably Tess’ versatility has been on show this year, where she’ll spend Saturday morning going from full forward to half back to ruck in the space of a quarter – into an afternoon spent on a phone call with the VAFA president whilst manning the bar and drawing up designs for new apparel.
But the game day vibes are not something Tess is willing to give up any time soon, “Getting into the team chat an hour before the game and thinking to myself how on earth Scarlett can drink a coffee that close to a game and not spew; and proceeding to be drowned in sweat during the warm up because that’s somehow the hardest part of the game – look, there’s nothing like it”.
As we approach the footy off-season, or as Tess prefers to call it the “cricket on-season”, she is excited to see what the Seagals can produce in their final games. “This season has been a huge year of growth for the girls, wherever we end up it’ll be leaps and bounds ahead from where we started in January and even back in 2017. To hold our own in Division 1 and still be recruiting girls at the end of June, there’s not a lot more you can ask for. I see the season finishing with an unbreakable culture and a beer in Cairns.”
And finally, any shoutouts ahead of her 50th? “A big shout out to Loz for selecting me for 50 games – that couldn’t have been an easy choice. Also to my sister Sarah for trying this out with me and being my biggest supporter through it all. Lastly to the gals, footy is a brutal sport and I wouldn’t keep coming back and getting slammed into the ground in the middle of winter on a Saturday morning if it weren’t for you. You make everything worth it”.
For anyone who has known Tess growing up, it is no surprise that a casual message to the CYs Facebook page would turn into a 50 game (and counting) career and a club presidency.
Tess puts in 110% to everything she does, and her fierce determination to leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring an inclusive and enjoyable space for the women’s team, the whole playing list and the extended CYs family alike is truly legendary.
Congrats on 50 games Tess! It is a privilege to wear the blue and gold alongside you and we’re all so proud of you for reaching … second place.
You can watch Tess terrorise Old Trinity’s forward line this Friday night at 7:00pm at the Marles Playing Fields in Bulleen.
A message from coach Lawrence Henry
“Tess been the heart and soul of the Seagals since day one. Her teammates have voted her in as the vice-captain across 3 seasons which is a testament to her standing within the group.
Coming from a non-football background, Tess’ development has been fantastic and pivotal to the teams success across 5 seasons and continues to improve as a player. Whatever we need on gameday, Tess is often thrown into unfamiliar roles and always delivers. Adding goal kicking to her game this year has been a treat to watch.
Tess is a hugely motivating player to her team mates and is the heart and soul of the Seagals way.”
A message from work-husband and co-president Fin Adamson
“Congratulations to Tess on reaching 50 games for the club. As a ‘founding’ player of our women’s team, she has done everything possible to make it a success beyond just pulling on the boots, from recruiting players, to captaincy and now to club presidency.
As a club we are incredibly fortunate to have her lead our community club both on and off-field and be role model for all.”
A message from fellow 50 CYs games player Scarlett Kennedy
“Tess is everything that you could want in a player, club member, team mate and a friend. Tess is always reliable and steps up wherever the team needs, with a new ability to nail a cheeky goal on the run!
Tess has been instrumental in setting up our team culture and every training, game and social event is better when Tess is there.
Can’t want for more games, goals and celebrations with you, congratulations and welcome to the club Tess!”
A message from women’s captain Zoe Day
“When I think CYS there is only one face that comes to mind and that is Tess Beagley. Whether you have seen her dominate in the Seagals backline, behind the bar or cornering someone in the world’s most intense conversation, it is not a stretch to say that she is everywhere. Being one of the founding Seagals, the impact Tess has on our team is immeasurable. Her love for the game shines through on the field and her white line fever is scary to witness.
This season she has found a home in our forward line with her very impressive on the run goal which I’m sure she has told everyone about by now! She is loved by everyone, and a role model for me and every woman at this club, as well as young girls around Williamstown.
Her legacy at CYs extents well beyond her impact on the field, she is a trail blazer for women’s footy and we all couldn’t be more proud of her. Congrats on 50 Pres, I reckon you have at least 100 more in you!”