When Tess Brennemen got a call in December of 2020 letting her know she would be honored by her old high school, the first thing she thought was that the ceremony would have to wait.
Last winter, COVID-19 restrictions in place at most Montana sporting events meant that there was only be limited attendance at the Flathead-Glacier crosstown basketball game where the induction would take place.
“If I walked out there by myself, it wouldn’t show the whole picture of how I was able to be so successful,” Brennemen said. “Looking up to my brothers growing up, all three of them, they should be there. And my parents, who drove thousands and thousands of miles to get me to practices and games. I could count on a hand the number of games a parent missed over the years.”
Instead, Brennemen requested the ceremony be postponed, ensuring she’d be able to properly honor the family, teammates and coaches that impacted her throughout the years.
On Jan. 21, the 2012 Flathead High School graduate will be inducted into the Legends Wall of Fame during the girls crosstown game at Flathead.
The Legends Wall of Fame Selection Committee picked Brennemen along with former Flathead High School wrestling coach Jeff Anderson as the latest ‘legends’ to honor for their achievements in athletics and contributions to the Kalispell community.
“I know other names that have been up there and they’re people who have a huge impact on the community and still get brought up whether they’re players or coaches.,” Brennemen said in a recent interview from her home in Seattle. “There are people on the wall that are so well known, so it’s such a huge honor to be included.”
Like many Montana high schoolers, Brennemen competed in as many sports as she could. Unlike most prep athletes, however, she stood out as one of the best players on the field, court and track.
Her 12 varsity letters were earned playing soccer, basketball and track and field and her high school stat sheet alone is Wall of Fame worthy.
As a basketball player, Brennemen was a two-time all-conference player for the Bravettes. On the soccer field, she was a three-time all-state performer and went on to earn a full ride scholarship to play for the University of Montana.
On the track, Brennemen made possibly the biggest splash as a prep athlete. By the time she graduated, she had scored more track meet points than any Bravette in school history with 818.25 points, 90.5 of which were earned at state meets. She made the podium in eight different events, set school records in the 400-meter dash (57.14) and the 100-meter hurdles (43.22) and earned back-to-back long-jump titles.
As a Griz, Brennemen focused on soccer, starting in 77 games, playing the second most career minutes in program history and becoming a poster-child for leadership on and off the field.
“I loved all sports growing up and doing so many helped me excel at each one,” Brennemen said. “The discipline I learned from doing sports helped me in school and the rest of life and I hope kids these days see that and are willing to try different sports as well.”
After graduating with degrees in psychology and exercise science, Brennemen returned to Kalispell briefly and coached at her alma mater before moving to Seattle where she works for a transitional housing nonprofit and is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling.
Brennemen hopes to get back into coaching after she finishes school as a way of continuing the cycle of mentorship she was able to experience in Kalispell.
“I’ve always loved working with kids, there’s just a fire inside me for that,” she said. “Getting to be part of a community on that level is important. Kalispell is a community that has a ton of support and that’s special — it’s not everywhere where you run into your coach at the store and it’s always clear how much camaraderie and connection is around you.”
Those connections will be on display when Brennemen walks into Flathead’s gym next week for the induction.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it alone,” she said. “I would love for every teammate and coach I’ve had to be there so I have the chance to thank them for getting me where I am today.”
During the spring of 2004 the School District 5 Flathead High School Trustees voted to change the name of Rawson Field to Legends Stadium. With the outstanding students, athletes, teachers, coaches and administrators in School District 5, the board of trustees believed that the creation of the Legends Wall of Fame would be an effective way to recognize many individuals who have made a significant contribution to the local school community.
Inductees are chosen based upon the following criteria:
1 – Service to community
2 – Excellence in leadership, academics and teaching in the Kalispell School District
3 – Outstanding athletic accomplishments in the Kalispell community and beyond
4 – Accomplishments at Legends Stadium and on the playing fields and courses of District 5 high schools
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