Fallbrook High School senior Tess Sutton signed a letter of intent to play volleyball with the University of Utah.
“It was a dream come true when I signed,” Sutton said. “It felt so good to do that.”
The libero signed her collegiate letter on April 17. “I worked so hard,” she said. “We’re very excited to have her. She’s a great addition. She’ll fit in well,” said Utah coach Beth Launiere.
“I’m excited for her,” said Fallbrook coach Robin Reese. “She worked really hard to play at that level, so I’m glad that she held out until she got a good offer.”
Sutton had also been considering University of Arizona, Texas Tech, and New Mexico State before choosing Utah. She made her visit to the Salt Lake City campus in mid-March. “I knew I wanted to sign the day I got there,” she said. “The players were absolutely just perfect.”
Utah plays in the PAC-12 conference. “I’ve always wanted a scholarship to PAC-12, and that’s what I got,” Sutton said. “I earned it, so that’s really exciting.”
Arizona is also in the PAC-12. Sutton’s brother, Luke, was invited to join Arizona’s baseball team as a walk-on following his 2011 Fallbrook High School graduation; he made the team but did not play. Her father, Mick, played baseball and football at Vista High School and was on the 1974 football team which won the CIF championship. Her mother, Leah, played field hockey and softball and ran track at San Marcos High School.
Sutton, a lifelong Bonsall resident, was born in Oceanside and attended Bonsall Elementary School and Sullivan Middle School. Sutton played softball prior to beginning her volleyball career in seventh grade. “My family wanted me to try out for another sport so I chose volleyball and the second I walked on the court I knew I wanted to play that sport for the rest of my life,” she said.
Sutton, who spent eight years in Fallbrook Girls Softball League competition, played no other sports in high school. She began playing volleyball with the Sullivan team coached by Cindy Lloyd. During the summer following eighth grade she began her club participation with the Cali club coached by Lloyd and her brother, Galen Tomlinson. She spent the past two seasons with the Coast Volleyball Club. Sutton, who turns 18 on June 23, made the Coast 18-1 club as a 15-year-old but opted to stay with Cali that year.
Sutton made Fallbrook High School’s varsity as a freshman in 2009 and was a defensive specialist and libero. She was at Mission Vista High School during her sophomore year but did not play volleyball, and she returned to Fallbrook High School and spent two more years on the Warrior varsity. Sutton was named to the Avocado East League first team in 2011 and to the Avocado West League first team in 2012. The Fallbrook players voted Sutton both as the team’s Most Valuable Player for 2012 and as the team’s Most Inspirational Player.
Sutton and Launiere initially had contact in February. “We were kind of looking for a libero late in the game,” Launiere said.
Sutton received the scholarship offer after her visit. “Just got very excited not only about her skill level and her ability on the court but also the intangibles she brought to the court,” Launiere said.
“We felt like she had the mentality to play PAC-12 volleyball,” Launiere said. “Mentally she’s very tough and a fiery competitor.”
“She’s capable of playing at that level,” Reese said.
Sutton is leaning towards a criminology major and a medical or nursing career. In addition to her volleyball activity, she spent two years on Fallbrook High School’s Associated Student Body government. She is also a volunteer for “It’s the Pits,” a pit bull rescue program based in Rancho Bernardo.
“I’m just excited to watch her play over the next four years and see how her college career goes,” Reese said.