By: Lizzie Casa (Athletic Communications Student Assistant)
A balancing act is something that you would expect a professional acrobat in the circus to have success, but not a college sophomore playing on two NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletic teams while working in an accelerated program with her major of engineering.
However, Tes DeJaeger makes it look easy on a daily basis. The sophomore plays both tennis and volleyball at Goucher College. Last year she was busy from the moment she arrived on campus in August until her last final in May and she was on that same course this year before the spring season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
She still has to be admired for her work ethic and time she takes to put forth her best effort in each sport and the classroom. With a rigorous preseason for volleyball and a large workload for the engineering program she is always doing something.
"I think two steps ahead so that later in the night I have time to spend with friends, boyfriend and whatever," said DeJaeger. "What can I do now so that I can have free time later?"
The Norwalk, Connecticut native's parents met playing beach volleyball in California. The two then created an indoor team, and began a community of friends that played volleyball. Her parents have such an affection for volleyball both of their children's names has something to do with volleyball.
"Volleyball is such an integral part of our family story. My mom wanted to keep the trend of three letter names in the family named me Tes which spelled backwards is 'set' and my younger sister Mia, which is 'aim' spelled backwards," explained DeJaeger.
Her parents are big into sports that you can play all of your life or what her mother refers to as "from womb to tomb." Tennis and volleyball have been a central part of DeJaeger's family for as long as she can remember for that reason.
When looking back at how DeJaeger got to Goucher, "conventional" is not the word to describe the journey that led her Baltimore. Having already put her deposit down for a university in Wisconsin to focus her energy just on engineering, DeJaeger had not planned to play sports in college. That is, until the Gophers women's volleyball coach at the time reached out to her and asked if she would be interested in an informal visit to Goucher.
During her visit, DeJaeger was getting to know the volleyball team when she mentioned her interest in tennis. Later that day, DeJaeger would commit to both teams. After receiving her acceptance letter to Goucher, she withdrew from her other option, and committed to Goucher in late April, drastically changing her educational trajectory.
DeJaeger knew she could do well wherever she ended up, stating, "I knew I could make a good future for myself wherever I went."
DeJaeger did not grow up playing volleyball for a formal team; she accredits her skill to playing informal matches with her family and watching her parents play. She began playing tennis at an organization called Grassroots, which helped develop her passion for the sport when she was young. DeJaeger does not prefer one sport over the other, but she does enjoy certain aspects of each sport.
"I really like the team aspect of volleyball like cheering each other on, but I also really enjoy the doubles aspect of tennis because having a partner pushes me to play my best," said DeJaeger.
Her favorite part of being on both teams is the friends that she has been able to make and the support that the coaches have offered. DeJaeger also states that there are challenges with both sports.
"Being a captain of the volleyball team and a key player for tennis comes with challenges, or opportunities as I call them," explained DeJaeger.
The sophomore works well under pressure and thrives in environments that push her to her limits. Not only does DeJaeger strive to excel in athletics but she also pushes her limits in academics. In January, DeJaeger attended the American Physical Society regional conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at the University of Maryland and was awarded the Best Poster honors. Her poster was entitled "Energy Measurement of Electron Beams from a Pyroelectric Crystal Accelerator." It showcased her research that she had done with Dr. Rodney Yoder in Summer of 2019 at Goucher.
DeJaeger is an engineering major and economics minor pursuing Goucher's Three-Plus-One program in engineering. Through the program, Goucher is in partnership with both Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University. Engineering students spend three years completing liberal arts requirements and prerequisites in various classes. If they are successful, they continue onto either Johns Hopkins or Columbia to pursue two Bachelor of Science degrees. Students earn both a civil engineering and physics degree in one year.
DeJaeger completed her second season on the women's volleyball team in the fall and led the team in assists and ranked among the leaders in the conference for the second-straight season. As a freshman, she played in the middle of the singles lineup and No. 2 doubles and helped Goucher to its first women's tennis postseason berth since 2013. She was expected to move up to the No. 2 singles spot and play No. 1 doubles this year, but the spring season never got started due to COVID-19.
"I think because I am in the accelerated program the three years I spend here mean so much more to me."
Despite having athletic eligibility of a junior for the 2020-21 campaign, she will be competing like a senior because it will be her final season at Goucher before she moves onto the next step of the Three-Plus-One program.
"It's scary. It hasn't hit me yet that next year will be my last year, but it definitely makes me work harder," said DeJaeger.
Hopefully in her last year, she can astonish everyone with her balancing act and leave her legacy at Goucher. DeJaeger will move on to Columbia University to finish her degrees. Her tennis and volleyball careers will end after just three short years.