As a junior on an experienced Greenbrier High School soccer team that advanced to the finals in 2012, Michael Harris had few leadership responsibilities. In 2013, he took on the role of leader.
“At the beginning of the year, it was definitely different not having Reed (Norton), Luke (Waechter) and Zack (Maxwell), because they were leadership figures,” said Harris. “It just took some adjusting to. It took some time, but it all came together.”
Wolfpack coach Chip Warren knew Harris would be the one to lead this year’s squad.
“At the end of the season last year, I told him it was going to be his team this year, and it has been,” said Warren. “He’s come up big for us on a number of occasions, like the other night right before spring break, we were down against Aiken and it was 2-1 and it got late and he scored the goal that tied it up for us, kept us from losing.”
Getting to his senior year has been a long road for Harris, who started playing soccer as a 3-year-old in Colorado. The family moved to Idaho when he was 7 before coming to Georgia in 2004. He tried other sports, but they fell by the wayside when he got to middle school.
“I played football and basketball and baseball,” Harris said. “I liked soccer more so I stuck with that. When you start playing travel it takes up most of your life and you don’t have time for anything else.”
He would like to play soccer collegiately and has verbally committed to Purdue University Calumet in Indiana.
He might study engineering, but is also interested in the medical field, and for his senior project he job-shadowed a family friend who is a radiologist.
“I thought it was pretty interesting,” Harris said. “Some parts were boring, just sitting there reading X-rays the whole time. Then there was the actual surgery part where I got to watch. That was actually pretty cool.”
But before he gets to all that, there’s the soccer season still to be played out, and the Wolfpack will be anywhere from a No. 1 to No. 4 seed in the GHSA Class AAAAA Boys State Soccer Tournament at the conclusion of region play.
Harris’ role changed dramatically following the mass exodus of a majority of the team March 20 for disciplinary reasons. That’s when players already on the roster were thrust in starting roles and members of the junior varsity were called up.
“My play, I’ve had to change up just a little bit just because they haven’t seen this level of play,” Harris said. “They don’t make the same runs. Connor Washer has done a great job, Myles (Duncan) is a solid player. They’ve definitely stepped up. We had a few players who were on varsity, stepped up and filled in a role, like Mason Vaughn stepped up, played defense and Daniel Pyun stepped up.”
While he still has confidence in the current squad’s abilities to compete, he thought the team that started the year was primed to accomplish big things.
“I believe we could have gone back to the state playoffs – made it to the finals again, maybe even win it,” said Harris. “That’s the downside to it. But I can also see an upside too. It’s helped me build my character more as a leader and it’s made me play a lot harder. I had to change my play up. I had to look at different sides of things.
“If I had to look back at it, I’d be a little disappointed with the way things ended up, there’s just not much I can do about it.”