By Erin Hallissy
Stephanie Harrison’s parents wanted their children to play sports for the usual reasons — to learn teamwork, hone their work ethic, develop discipline and have fun. Harrison, a 21-year-old senior from Murrietta who received an athletic scholarship to play soccer at Saint Mary’s, picked up all those lessons — along with the great defensive skills that earned her second team Freshman All-America honors in 2004 among other awards.
After suffering three concussions, from October 2005 to July 2006, she could no longer compete, but Harrison never hung up her uniform. “The important thing for me was the team,” she says. “I started shagging balls, getting water to the girls, helping the coaches. Every practice, I was there. Every game, I was there.” She filmed games, kept track of everyone’s Harrisonbirthdays and baked them cakes or Rice Krispies treats or other favorite sweets to celebrate the annual milestones.
In 2006–07, she was the “team mom;” this year she’s the team manager, and has taken on responsibility for keeping stat sheets, handling laundry and making sure equipment is accounted for. Some injured athletes don’t want to remain around their team, even if the school honors the scholarship, but Harrison says she wouldn’t feel right staying away. “Until I leave, I want to do everything I can for the team.”
So Harrison remains busy, juggling practices, games and work in the Athletics Department with classes — the calendar she keeps in a notebook shows almost every waking hour for weeks at a time filled. She doesn’t mind: “That’s my daily routine,” she says with a smile.