Mystic Valley captain receives the Costello Courageous Player Award
Everett’s Anastasia Bessler made state high school football history Sunday as the first-ever female recipient of the Paul Costello Courageous Player Award.
Bessler, a senior at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, was a captain of the Eagles’ 2018 varsity football team. A two-way starting lineman who was named All-Commonwealth Conference, Bessler was honored by the Massachusetts Football Coaches Association Sunday night at its awards banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westborough.
Bessler was recognized with the prestigious award for “being an inspiration to her team.”
Bob Souza, president of the MHSFCA, told the capacity crowd that Bessler began her football career at the age of five “and has consistently proven that she can compete in a sport typically dominated by male players.”
In her acceptance speech, Bessler thanked the MHSFCA for selecting her for the award.
“I would also like to thank my coaches, my teammates, and most importantly my family, especially my parents [Michael and Andrea Bessler] for always having my back as a female player. Without my family’s support, I would not be here today. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be playing football.”
Bessler said she began watching the sport when her father, Michael, was coaching football in Everett Pop Warner.
“Once I turned five, I asked my parents if instead of being a cheerleader, could I be a football player,” recalled Bessler. “And my parents were all for it. They were glad, never looked back and allowed me to do what I wanted.”
Bessler played for teams coached by her father in Everett Pop Warner. She also remembered the outstanding instruction she received from other legendary Pop Warner coaches, Peter Forte and Chuck Leo.
She began playing football in seventh grade at Mystic Valley and became a starting player for the freshman and junior varsity teams.
As a junior, Bessler was a starting defensive tackle and offensive guard for the Mystic Valley varsity. She was named a team captain in her senior season.
Bessler, who attended Mystic Valley from kindergarten through twelfth grade, will matriculate at the University of Maine where she will major in Animal Sciences with a minor in Management.
Also an outstanding shortstop for the Mystic Valley varsity since seventh grade, Bessler hopes to play in the Division 1 UMaine program. She has played high school softball for Coaches John Furlong, her hitting coach, and Rebecca Krigman.
In an interview following the award presentation, Bessler again praised her parents for their incredible support from childhood to the present.
“They’re my biggest fans and they have helped me and supported me through everything that I’ve ever wanted to do, no matter what it was.”
Bessler has an older brother, Mattie, and a younger brother, Michael, “my biggest fan who is a freshman at Mystic Valley.”
“He’s the starting center for Mystic Valley,” she added proudly.