Lauren Tsai ’00, Beloved Teammate, Dies at 26

Twenty-six-year-old Lauren Tsai ’00 was killed in a car accident in Newton, MA on December 13. Remembered most for her compassion, wit and intelligence. Tsai excelled in academics and athletics during her three years at Andover. Tsai was a member of Andover’s varsity field hockey, basketball and softball teams, and attended MIT after graduating from Andover. Karen Friedlander ’01 said, “The world lost a really tremendous person, somebody who was just good—she wasn’t even good, she was great.” “I can’t think of something about that girl that wasn’t just the best. And she did it so humbly. At Tsai’s funeral, there was such a great outpouring of love. Everyone supported her and she wanted the best for everyone and everyone wanted the best for her.” When a sports-related injury left Christine Anneberg ’00 bedridden on the second floor of Johnson, Tsai, a resident of Adams, would go to Commons and bring Anneberg lunch and dinner. “She was always helping others,” Anneberg said as her voice cracked. Anneberg and Tsai were both new Lowers when they met on the basketball court at Andover. The two were pitted against each other, and by the end of the match, everyone on the court had stopped to watch the two fierce competitors. Anneberg said, “I don’t think either of us actually won.” Anneberg said that after battling on the court, Tsai turned to her and shot her a grin, offering a high five. “I’m totally gonna beat you next time,” she had said, “Oh, and by the way: I’m Lauren.” To Friedlander, Tsai was the “epitome of what it means to be successful at Andover.” As a dormmate in Adams Hall and teammate on varsity softball, Friedlander said she was amazed by Tsai’s ability to balance schoolwork and team commitments. “More than anything, her door was always open,” Friedlander said. “You could always share a laugh from across the hall. At Andover there’s a lot of people who focus on one thing. Lauren kind of did it all, and she did it all well.” Friedlander laughed as she spoke about Tsai’s college application experience. Friedlander said she visited Tsai’s dorm room and asked her how she was handling the stress. “She just said, ‘Oh, I’m going to MIT.’ I mean, she was so smart and so talented, but there was nothing showy about her.” Alicia Dermody ’98, captain of the varsity basketball team during Tsai’s Lower year, wrote in an email that while her time with Tsai was short, she “marveled at how quickly [Tsai] could switch from serious to hilarious.” Echoing the sentiment, Anneberg said, “She had this really funny laugh, just this honest familiarity about her.” Claire Coffey ’99, captain of the basketball team Tsai’s Upper year, remembered “Tsai-Tsai” as someone who “never quit, never gave up and never got discouraged.” Off the court, Tsai was “very quiet,” but whenever she said something it was always “sunny and insightful,” Coffey said. Kate Dolan, Tsai’s field hockey coach, said Tsai was a team player who “was reliable, dependable [and] hard working.” According to Dolan, Tsai scored the lone goal against Exeter in 1998 as a Lower in a 1-0 Andover win, yet she remained “very unassuming about her gifts and talents, on and off the field.” Peter Drench, Tsai’s softball coach, described Tsai as the same person seen in pictures, “looking out of the corner of her eye, with a sly smile.” He continued, “Lauren was highly respected for her intelligence, but she was also very witty and playful.” “Lauren was one of the most special students I’ve ever met,” Drench said. Clyfe Beckwith, Physics teacher and Flagstaff Cluster Dean, taught Tsai in her Lower and Senior years, for Physics 55, now 550, and Cosmology. Beckwith wrote in an evaluation that Tsai was “the equivalent of Speedy Gonzalez.” Beckwith remembered her most as “an incredibly diligent worker,” who “completed every task in record time.” He continued, “She was a sponge for information with a recall that had her classmates, and me, in awe.” In addition to her repertoire as a multi-talented student and all-star athlete, Tsai was a true friend. Tsai’s friendships were lasting ones. Friedlander was a freshman at Boston University when Tsai was a sophomore mechanical engineering major at MIT. “Lauren knew that I was adjusting and repeatedly went out of her way to take me out to dinner or take me out with her friends…Even though she had her sports and academics, she still had time to pick up the phone and make sure that we kept that friendship going,” she said. Karen Kennedy, Tsai’s varsity basketball coach, said, “You don’t forget kids like Lauren.”