When the most successful coach from the winningest program in your sport comes calling, it is hard to say no.
That is the decision Brownsville’s Tessa Dellarose had to make last spring when the University of North Carolina and head coach Anson Dorrance pursued the sophomore to join the women’s soccer program at UNC.
“I made my verbal commitment on April 3,” Dellarose said. “I was just thrilled to even be offered to play for UNC. Along with being a historic program, the campus is beautiful and they have good academics. It really didn’t take me long to accept their offer. Numerous world-class players have played for the program, are playing right now and will be playing there soon.”
The Tar Heels have won 21 NCAA Division I National Championships under Dorrance in his 43 years at the helm. UNC won a national title in 1981 as a member of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women before starting play in the NCAA Tournament the next year. North Carolina hasn’t won a title since 2012, but were runners-up last year and made it to the semifinals in 2016.
Dorrance and his staff first started to take notice of Dellarose when she attended an identification camp in Chapel Hill last August.
“In August of 2018, I switched club teams to the Riverhounds Academy, and my coach, Jason Kutney, sent me to the camp in North Carolina,” Dellarose said. “They saw me down there, and then in January, I went to Florida, and in April, I went to Arizona for national showcases.”
Prior to joining the Riverhounds Academy, Dellarose played for the Beadling Soccer Club in Canonsburg.
Dellarose trains multiple times a week with Mike Whiteman, who is the strength and conditioning coach for the Riverhounds Academy.
“You have to go all-around when it comes to playing at an elite level,” Dellarose said. “I have been playing soccer since I was four, and playing club soccer since I was six or seven. I started to really believe I could play Division I when I was 11 or 12.”
Dellarose plays forward for her high school team, and has 45 goals in 12 matches, but plays on the wing for her club team, and could play as an outside back in college.
“I really like all the positions, and it is a good tactic to be able to play them all,” Dellarose said. “They use me as a striker in high school, but in club, I am in the midfield because of my speed and ability to get the ball to the strikers. I may play outside back in college because of my speed and I will be able to neutralize the other team’s strikers and get the ball to our midfielders. I’m really happy to play wherever I can to best help the team.”
Dellarose loves playing for the Lady Falcons, and hopes the team can get into the playoffs and go on a run.
“I am happy to play for my high school team,” Dellarose said. “It is so much fun to play at Redstone Field. I think it gives us that home-field advantage because most fields are turf, and it is grass. My teammates give 100 percent for 80 minutes, and we are doing really well, especially because we don’t have as much experience as the other teams, but we give it our all every game. My sister, Talia, also plays on our high school team, so that makes it even better.”
In addition to playing on a team that doesn’t have a rich soccer history, Dellarose is proud of where she comes from and wants to use her experiences as an example for younger girls that take up the sport.
“I love Brownsville,” Dellarose said. “It is my hometown and it makes me proud to be able to represent where I come from. I really hope that others can take what I’ve done and use it as motivation to succeed in whatever they strive for.”
Dellarose maintains a 4.0 GPA, and after the time she takes up with her soccer, there isn’t much left in a day.
“My life is pretty much school and soccer, but that’s OK with me,” Dellarose said.
Dellarose hopes she can go beyond playing collegiately, but starting in the fall of 2022, Dellarose will be stepping on the pitch at Chapel Hill.
“The ultimate goal is definitely to play professionally, but I will just take it one step at a time,” Dellarose said. “I am looking forward to the rest of my time playing high school and club soccer before I start in college.”