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Read what happens when we toss it to Lettuce

17-Aug-2018

Fresh to the game and hailing from the USA, Tess Plant-Thomas has not only had to get used to the Aussie nick naming tradition, but experienced first-hand a version of the hospital hand-pass – in her case, a hospital head-clash!

She can do everything, this girl: intrepid traveller, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, talented and gusty give-it-a-go Aussie Rules footballer.

And nothing wipes the smile from her face. Not even a bloodied broken nose and facial scratches after sustaining some friendly fire in the amazing win her team mates notched up to get the Roy Girls Ressies to their first-ever grannie.

Lettuce (as she’s affectionately known) moved to Australia last November to join her Australian boyfriend, Josh, on his return to Melbourne from La Jolla, her hometown in California, where he’d been on a year-long working visa.

“I unabashedly hurried to join him two months after he returned,” says Tess, “and since then I’ve been mixing travel with settling into life here.

“I’ve loved Melbourne since landing, but it was joining Fitzroy that really gave me a sense of belonging.”

Tess says she first started hearing about this mysterious Australian sport of footy from Josh back in San Diego. He’d showed her a few clips of his brother, Aiden Burke, playing for Fitzroy, and she was intrigued.

Then after going to Carlton practice matches at Prince’s Park and the season opener at the MCG Tess was, as she puts it, “beyond hooked”.

Before joining Fitzroy, Josh and Tess would go the park every other day to kick the Sherrin with his family’s two Jack Russell terriers. But it was Josh’s mum, Susan Burke, who really pushed Tess to play footy.

“Susan had said from the very beginning that I should join a footy club,” says Tess, “that I would love it and my background in soccer and athletics might make me well suited for it.”

So after significant procrastination, and needling from the Burke family, Aiden gave Tess the number for the women’s coach.

“I called Mick and he invited me to training that night,” says Tess. “And from there I fell in love.”

Tess says she loves the Fitzroy community. That it's incredibly inclusive and supportive.

“Everyone respects each other and it’s a beautifully quirky team of women from all sorts of backgrounds, who are tough as nails and full of passion.”

When pressed, Tess nominates Susie and Pip (or Calypso) as those she loves playing with most.

“I love hearing Susie’s voice when I’m in the ruck: ‘On your right Lettuce, on your left Lettuce, behind you Lettuce.’ She’s a rock and I love knowing she’s always there to receive my erratic taps.

“As for Pip, she has such an amazingly positive attitude – she makes me believe we can win, even when the wind is blowing a gazillion miles an hour and I’m huffing and puffing like a steam train.”

Tess lets out a long EEEE when she considers that the girls will be playing in the grand final.

“While I won’t be able to play with my current zombie face, I’ll be there cheering my heart out for my red, yellow, blue.”

And we’ll be with you all the way Lettuce. Go Roys Girls!

Tess had surgery during the week for her broken nose suffered early in last week’s preliminary final and will miss the grand final, along with teammate and second head-clash victim, Cass Blake. Despite her hospital admission (right), Tess was all smiles and high fives for a fabulous RoyGirls2 win against a more experienced MUGARS side to advance to the Grand Final, our girls’ first ever!

Word has it that Tess sings a song she wrote dedicated to Fitzroy-ACU! Those lucky enough to attend our upcoming Women in Footy lunch will get to hear it for themselves.


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