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Local athlete reaches new heights

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It doesn’t hurt to surf the ’Net when you’re looking for summer athletic camps. Just ask Karen Harris of Crozier., a six foot tall athlete of here, would certainly agree.

Harris, 17 and standing six feet tall, spent a fair portion of her summer attending a volleyball camp in Nebraska and a basketball one in Chicago.

With the help of parents, John and Lydia, who accompanied her, Harris was able to select the camps she felt would help improve her athletic abilities.

“I wanted something at a higher level and these camps taught me so much. They were really good,” she remarked.

Harris had just returned last week from her three-day basketball camp for forwards and centres that ran Aug. 1-3 at the University of Benedictine in Chicago.

It was run and organized by Doug Bruno, head basketball coach at DePaul University there. Each 14-hour day, starting at 8 a.m., consisted of drills and skills performed by the 90 female athletes aged 12-18 who attended.

Just as the ages varied between the athletes, so did their height and playing abilities.

“I was afraid I would be the worst player there but I held my own against them,” noted Harris.

Hannah Carter, also 17, a 5’10" all-around athlete from Fort Frances who accompanied Harris to Chicago, also she found the camp to be a positive experience.

“It’s absolutely one of the best I’ve been to," she remarked. "I thought it would be neat to go somewhere different and see what levels they’re at compared to a small town.”

Harris said the many of the girls came to the camp from Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Many of them were surprised to meet Canadians there but Harris and Carter came away with good friends.

Both Muskies admitted they were nervous going down but knew they had to keep an open mind.

“I just wanted to improve. I wanted to learn more post moves and get better at those,” Harris said.

And they succeeded in accomplishing just that, each receiving an award. Carter was named to the all-star team, chosen by Bruno and his assistants, while Harris came home with a trophy as champion of the the two-on-two competition.

But that’s not all Harris got from the basketball camp.

“I’ve walked away with confidence. I think I’ll be more aggressive,” she said, adding confidence was something she had to attain over the years.

“When I first went out for basketball in grade nine, I thought about turning around and leaving," she recalled. ”But then I thought I’d kick myself afterwards if I did.

“I had no skills, just height, but over the years, I feel I have gotten better,” she added.

As for the volleyball camp Harris attended June 22-26 in Nebraska, those same nervous pangs were present but eventually conquered.

With 250 girls aged 12-18 at the camp, Harris knew she wasn't the only one feeling a bit overwhelmed.

The camp was headed by Terry Pettit, head coach of the University of Nebraska Huskers, the top team in the U.S. last season.

With 12 hours a day of learning and practising volleyball, the middle hitter, and her parents, noticed considerable improvements.

“I could tell I could pass much better than I use to, which is something I’m the worst at,” Harris said.

With a desire to excel, Harris plans to pursue athletics, which plays an important role in her life.

“Sports is fun. It teaches responsibility because you have to balance everything like school, a job, and the sport,” she remarked.

But for now, Harris is looking forward to suiting up for the Muskies in her senior year.

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