Brenneman Commits to Griz Soccer Program

Flathead High senior signs letter of intent with University of Montana

By Beacon Staff
Tess Brenneman is a junior basketball player for Flathead High School. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon

Flathead High senior Tess Brenneman recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer at the University of Montana next fall, the school announced last week.

Brenneman has been a three-sport all-state standout for the Bravettes the past four years, excelling in soccer, track and basketball. Brenneman will join fellow Kalispell native Maddey Frey on the Griz roster. Last fall, Montana won its first Big Sky Conference Championship in 11 years.

Joel Carlson with the University of Montana released a nice write-up about Brenneman being recruited by UM.

It’s a good read about a great local athlete.

Here it is:

Modern-day recruiting in NCAA Division I women’s soccer is a two-step process. One, identify the prospect as early as her freshman or sophomore year of high school. Two, pressure said player to make an early commitment.

In the current era of early-identification, high-pressure recruiting, Montana coach Mark Plakorus is proving to be an antagonist. How else to describe the recruitment of his latest signee?

Tess Brenneman, a senior at Kalispell’s Flathead High, had options. When you’re a three-time all-state soccer player, a track and field state champion and a second-team all-state basketball player, plus you rank near the top of your graduating class academically, coaches and colleges are going to want you on their campus.

Instead of taking the tack so many other coaches would have, Plakorus, who is secure in both his program and his university, gave Brenneman all the time and space she needed to make her decision. And it paid off.

When asked about the timing of Brenneman’s signing, which came nearly a month after Plakorus’s original group of six prep players signed their NLIs in early February, Plakorus responded in a way that few Division I soccer coaches would.

“I want all the players we’re recruiting to go see what else is out there, because I’ll put what we’re doing as a program and what we have at the University of Montana up against any school out there,” he said.

“Players who choose to come here are going to have an unbelievable experience, but I want them to come here because this is definitely where they want to be. They can’t do that until they’ve seen everything they’ve needed to see.”

Brenneman’s athletics resume reads like someone who would be on the speed-dial end of a number of coaches’ phones.

She was a three-time all-state soccer selection while playing for the Bravettes, who finished fourth at the 2010 and ’11 Class AA state tournaments after falling by a single goal each year in the semifinals to the eventual state champion.

Brenneman’s state championship in track and field came in the long jump in 2010, when she edged future Griz soccer teammate and rival Glacier High graduate Maddey Frey.

At last spring’s state meet, Brenneman scored in five individual events – the 100, 200 and 400 meters, the 300-meter hurdles and long jump – and ran on two scoring relays.

After looking at what was available, Brenneman, a 5’ 8” defender, chose the Grizzlies.

“I’ve been looking to play soccer the entire time,” she said. “I love basketball, but I thought I would have better opportunities in soccer, and I enjoy competing in soccer more than I do track.

“I looked around the Northwest and realized I really like this area. I like the size of the University of Montana and I like the campus, and I’ve always been a Griz fan.

“I’ve known Mark for a while, so I’m excited about the opportunity to get to play for him. I’m excited to take my soccer game to the next level and see what kind of player I can become and what I can accomplish.”

Though Plakorus was hired just over a year ago from TCU, he’s known Brenneman for years because of his summertime work at the Flathead Soccer Camp. It was their previous relationship through the camp that allowed Plakorus to confidently step back and give Brenneman the freedom to choose her future.

“I’ve known Tess for a long time, so I told her from the get-go that that I’m always going to be here and that when she was ready to move forward in the recruiting process and ready to find out more about our program, let me know,” Plakorus said.

“We had her down, and I told her I’d like her to be part of the program. A few weeks later she called me and told me she wanted to be a Grizzly.”

Brenneman ups Plakorus’s 2012 recruiting class to seven and gives the second-year coach two incoming athletes from the state of Montana. He signed Savannah Witt of Billings in his initial group, plus two players from Texas, two from California and one from Alberta.

“Like the other players we signed, Tess is extremely competitive. She loves to win, and she works incredibly hard in everything she does,” Plakorus said. “She is tough to deal with on the field because she is so athletic.

“Right now she is stretched between a lot of sports. I’m excited to see how she can blossom and get better once she starts concentrating on one thing.”

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