Senior Amy Follette discusses her career and how she reached this point.
The date was September 8, the Pirates tennis team playing Wadena-Deer Creek in a Detroit Lakes triangular. Senior Amy Follette held a 1-0 set lead over Wadena-Deer Creek’s Abby Westrom. Now in set two, Follete led games 5-2 in search of a sixth which would seal the victory. Once the game, set and match was won, Follette thought of it as just another win, nothing more. What Follette did not know was that she had just earned her 100th victory for the Crookston Pirates.
“Geff [Mike Geffre] told me and Ally [Tiedemann] where we were [for wins] at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t really know until Sue [Tiedemann] came up and hugged me after a match which is super weird for her,” Follette said.
Follette began playing for Crookston tennis in eighth grade, not even in high school at the time.
With girls having as much as four years on Follette, she expressed pleasure in getting the honor of playing with high school students, but also acknowledged the need to prove herself.
“It was nice and it was very stressful,” Follette said. “When you’re so young, you feel like you have to make your presence known and show the rest of the team that you’re good enough to be on the varsity team. It was hard, but it was a lot of fun.”
Two years later, Follette found herself competing at the state level. She qualified with the team and also as an individual in doubles.
The team took home silver and Follette walked away earning eighth place.
Perhaps she had accomplished too much too early in her career. With fear of hitting a plateau, Follette came back next year and went to state again in doubles. This time, she returned with a bronze metal.
Follette says these memories stand out as her favorites.
“In the section tournament my sophomore year when we made it to state, in the bus ride home after, everyone was so excited, smiling and could not stop talking about how excited they were,” Follette said. “That was super fun.”
Picking a favorite memory from five plus years proved difficult for Follette. She eventually decided on the state runs, but also voiced her joy in watching developing players.
“I love watching the floaters between JV and varsity,” Follette said. “When they do something amazing, they are so surprised that they can do it. It’s fun watching them react to seeing how good they are.”
Attributing success was no problem as Follette quickly named her father, Brian Follette.
Along with teaching her the game, Follete credits her father for teaching her the importance of enjoying the game.
“My dad has been coaching tennis for longer than I’ve been alive,” Follette said. “It’s been something we can do together since I could hold a racket. He’s reminded me a lot that tennis is supposed to be fun and to not get so bent out of shape if you don’t win especially if you’ve done everything you can.”
While her father taught her the physical and emotional facets of the game, Follette praised the head tennis coach of Crookston Mike Geffre for his guidance.
“Geffre has helped us with not only our tennis game, but also the mental aspect,” Follette said. “He has helped us with keeping control of your emotions, figuring out what you did wrong and trying to fix it and also how to be a student.”
When matches are not going her way, Follette takes an interesting approach to get out of a slump: she talks to herself.
“I talk to myself,” Follette explained. “I assess what I’m doing wrong and I’ll tell myself everything I need to do. So a lot of times I will say ‘move your feet, set up for the shot, stroke the ball.’”
Follette is currently in her senior year of high school and will be forced to hang up the racket at least as a Pirate.
The most pressing matter to face, according to Follette, will be leaving her teammates. Especially, Jaeden Lizakowski and her usual doubles partner Ally Tiedemann, both of whom Follette has played with for four years.
“It’s going to be really sad, but it will be good for all of us to go out and meet new people who also enjoy playing tennis,” Follette said. “We’ll still keep in contact and play together when we get the chance.”
Follette does not seem to struggle with looking ahead. She expressed interest in attenting a four year university with the possiblity of playing tennis wherever she goes. For a degree, Follette is considering something along the lines of education or health science with hopes of someday being in graduate school.
When asked about a specific school, Follette seemed intrigued by the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.
But before all that can be attended to, the Crookston Pirates still have a season of tennis to play. Each player has aspirations of qualifying for state, but according to Follette, there is a higher objective.
“Have as much fun as you can with the people you’re around,” Follette said. “Just have fun every practice and every match. That’s the next goal.”