When every season your team is a top contender for the conference championship, there’s a reason...for the Worcester State Lancers, that reason is Karen Tessmer. Now entering her 22nd season as Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Associate Athletic Director at Worcester State, Karen Tessmer’s dedication and commitment to the success of the Lancers is clear.
Karen joined WSU in 1994 with an extensive and impressive coaching and recruiting background. She coached on the Division I level for six years, first with James Madison University, a team that competed in the NCAA Regional's two straight years and was ranked in the top 10. She then assisted at George Washington University for two years, a team that also received votes in the top 20 polls during her tenure. Prior to joining Worcester State, Karen was the First Assistant at Ivy League power, Dartmouth College, where she brought in many prized recruits and saw her team rise to be Ivy League Champions and NCAA participants.
Karen received her Master’s Degree in Education while at James Madison University. She attended Gettysburg College for her undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Education, graduating Cum Laude and with departmental honors. As a player for Gettysburg, Karen captained teams that competed in the NCAA Division III Tournament and were ranked as high as 12th in the country. She was selected third team All-American, awarded All-Conference honors, and still reigns as the all-time assist leader in school history. Karen also captained and was the starting center fielder on the Gettysburg softball team, which qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament. She earned All-Conference honors in softball as well. Topping off Karen’s athletic achievements is her well deserved 1997 induction into the Gettysburg College Hall of Fame and her '83-84 NCAA Team was honored in 2009 as well.
Karen has been named MASCAC Coach of the Year three times during her tenure at Worcester State, most recently during the 2012-13 campaign for helping lead the squad to second place in the MASCAC standings and a first-round home game. She was also tabbed by her peers in 2006 for capturing the leagues regular season title after graduating four seniors (three staters) the year before and in 1998 for turning around a program that hadn't seen a winning season since 1990.
Indeed, no one at Worcester State holds the same eye for detail and posses such pure motivation as Coach Tessmer. Her teams are perennial conference contenders, have always qualified for the MASCAC tournament and since her first season, the squad has had only one sub .500 conference finish.
Under Karen's guidance, the Lancers have made three MASCAC Tournament championship game appearances in 2000, 2003 and 2010 and earned a pair of berths to the ECAC Division III New England Tournament in 2005 and 2010. Tessmer also earned her 200th career win during the 2009-10 season.
Karen’s commitment to Worcester State’s athletes extends well beyond the basketball court, as she regularly monitors her players’ academic progress and has coached numerous Presidential Scholars and All-Academic players; she also involves her team in numerous campus and community projects.
Karen is former Chair of the NCAA Division III Selection Committee, is a past-President of the Worcester Area College Basketball Association, a past-President of the New England Women’s Basketball Association, served on the WBCA Board of Directors and past member on the Executive Board of the MAIAW. She is the chair of the NCAA Division III Recruiting Working Group, which is analyzing issues affecting coaches around the divsion.
As an Associate Athletic Director for Worcester State, Karen is responsible for NCAA eligibility for all sports, student-athlete retention, and academic supervision. She is also a part-time faculty member at the university and participates regularly as a speaker for leadership seminars and events on campus.
Karen is also the proud mom to her daughter, Lily, and the Lancer's biggest fan. Coach Tessmer will continually set high standards for her team and strive for excellence within the women’s basketball program. Her friendship with numerous women's basketball alumni continually demonstrates her positive influence on players. Worcester State is proud to have her on their staff.