Competing in athletics at Lehigh allows individuals to grow in all aspects of life. Lehigh men’s lacrosse junior Tripp Telesco is a perfect example.
Only halfway through his collegiate career, the Ridgewood, New Jersey native has already developed into an All-American on the field. Off the field, he spent seven weeks overseas this past summer for an academic and professional opportunity which led to significant personal growth.
A Supply Chain Management major, Telesco studied abroad in Rome, Italy from May 26 through July 11. He applied for the opportunity through the Villanova Business School, which included both classroom work and a full-time internship.
“My best friend (since elementary school) and I have always wanted to travel abroad together,” said Telesco. “A mutual friend goes to Villanova and mentioned this program. It was something that came together at the last minute.”
The three friends were accepted to the program. Several Villanova lacrosse players were also on the trip. Lehigh and Villanova have played every year since 2007 and 19 out of the last 20 seasons. Telesco has won both meetings against the Wildcats in his career after last season’s triple overtime thriller.
Despite standing on opposite sidelines just months earlier, Telesco said: “I got very close with them during the trip. They’re my good buddies now.”
The timing to study abroad made sense for Telesco. Even though time can be limited for student-athletes, everyone within the Lehigh community (coaches and administrators) encourages the student-athletes to grow outside of their sport.
“I thought the summer was an opportune moment to experience studying abroad and engulf myself in the culture over there,” said Telesco.
“We are proud of Tripp for stepping outside of his comfort zone and hope that his experiences will help make our campus community a better place and help make our team better moving forward,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese.
While in Rome, Telesco took two classes at American University of Rome: Art of Rome and International Financial Management. The classes didn’t translate directly to Lehigh credits, but the registrar worked with Tripp to figure out a solution.
“I was able to work with the registrar to get the classes situated because they wanted me to take this opportunity,” said Telesco. “They were happy about it. It was nice that they were on board and supported me throughout the entire experience.”
One of the classes, Art of Rome, was essentially a walking tour of Rome.
“I was able to see all the historically rich parts of the city,” said Telesco. “I saw all the monuments, the churches, the basilicas and everything Rome has to offer. I also took International Financial Management which was taught by a Villanova professor. He came along for the trip and facilitated that class, along with the internship.”
As part of International Financial Management, Telesco learned about currency between different countries and how different stock exchanges work. Tripp attended classes Monday through Thursday for two hours each day.
Classes ended on July 1, which was followed by a 10-day consulting internship with aesthetics medicine company Salus Editrice Internazionale. As part of the internship, the students had to develop a marketing plan as a team, given a financial budget. The work was for the 2016 European Congress of Aesthetic Medicine in Rome.
“The senior manager wanted us to create this plan that works more smoothly given a budget,” said Telesco. “We had to use our knowledge of marketing. We used a few media and social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to spread our message and increase awareness.”
Outside of the classroom, Telesco learned and grew as an individual as well. He spoke over the phone with his parents just once per week.
“I think the trip helped me further grow as an independent adult,” said Telesco. “I was away from my parents for seven weeks, in a different country with little communication. It was a very cool experience being in a whole different country without really anyone and having to adapt.”
Telesco also enjoyed the tourism aspect, which occurred on weekends.
“We went on a trip to Florence, got to travel to Barcelona, Prague, Amsterdam and other beautiful European cities,” said Telesco. “My biggest takeaway from the experience was the opportunity to travel to a bunch of different places in such a short period of time. I got to see six different countries in seven weeks with a bunch of new friends, which was something I will never forget.”
In late May, Telesco met Villanova students who could become lifelong friends. Just over three months earlier, they were facing off on a cold February afternoon in Bethlehem. Although there was occasional trash talking on the trip, the mood was very light and reminiscent of brothers. Lacrosse is a brotherhood after all.
Having other athletes alongside was beneficial for everyone.
“We’d work out together and go on runs together,” said Telesco. “We were essentially competing, both running and lifting. It was a cool aspect to the trip.”
Telesco has worked hard entering his junior campaign as he looks to improve on his All-America season. The defenseman finished 2014 with 44 groundballs and 36 caused turnovers, which was among the nation’s best. Ironically, Tripp identifies last year’s game vs. Villanova as a turning point. He enjoyed success up until that point, but his performance against the Wildcats (career-high seven groundballs and seven caused turnovers) helped him believe he could take his game to the next level.
“Seeing the game film and understanding how I played gave me a lot of confidence,” said Telesco. “In the back of my head, I knew I had the skills and capability to be good. I could just go out there, play, and not worry or think so much.”
Similar to his personal growth, Telesco has also taken advantage of the support system within his sport to grow on the lacrosse field. He credits former Lehigh assistant coach (and current Dartmouth head coach) Brendan Callahan in his improvement.
“My lacrosse IQ increased because of Coach Callahan. He showed me the ropes and really helped me out,” said Telesco. “Towards the beginning of last year, when the ball was in my stick, I was very nervous and would turn the ball over. He helped me calm down.”
Telesco has also learned from some of the Patriot League’s (and nation’s) best defensive players.
“People like Ty Souders, Lukas Mikelinich and Matt Poillon have been so supportive in everything I’ve done,” said Telesco. “I’ve been so comfortable out there knowing they’re behind me, having my back all the time.”
“Tripp is a tremendous athlete, who plays the game with an old school tenacity and ferocity. He is a relentless competitor who knows only one speed… full speed,” said Cassese. “Off the field, he is as mild-mannered and polite as they come.”
Now that Souders is gone and Telesco is an upperclassman, Tripp’s role will continue to increase.
“Tripp has tremendous strength of character and is actively developing his leadership skills. He will be asked to step into more of a leadership role on the defense this year and with the team overall,” said Cassese. “Tripp is well-respected by his peers and has a tremendously positive influence on all those he comes in contact with.”
“If we have younger guys on the field, I need to be more vocal and communicate where to go,” said Telesco.
In the end, student-athletes play college athletics to not only grow within their sport, but most importantly, grow in everyday life so they graduate in a strong position to enter the real world.
“I’ve always been an advocate for broadening horizons and gaining valuable experiences,” said Cassese. “For some, it means volunteer or service work. For others, it means internships and for others, it means joining a club on campus. For Tripp, it meant studying abroad. These opportunities are critical for personal growth and development.”
Lehigh has helped Telesco develop in all respects – personally, professionally, academically, athletically – and he’s only halfway through his career.
“On the field, Tripp had an immediate impact on the program from day one,” said Cassese. “He emerged as an outstanding athlete and one of the leaders in his freshman class. He is already one of the most decorated defensemen in Lehigh history, and he’s only played two seasons.”