For most kids, going off to college is the first time they stray away from home, but they are often close enough to still see family.
For someone like Emily Harris, that’s not possible.
Harris is a freshman ice hockey and field hockey athlete who is from Crondall, England.
“I found out about Castleton through my teammate, Casey Trail. We played on the same team since we were young,” Harris said about her journey to CU.
From a young age, Harris knew she wanted to come to college in the United States but there was always this dilemma of choosing the sport she wanted to play.
“It was always a question of if I go for field hockey or ice hockey and since I found out about Castleton that I could do both sports, it was just a no brainer,” Harris said.
Being from a unique place, Harris knew she wanted a school where she would have support from the people around her.
“The small-school vibe, especially being from far away, I needed a lot of support from people around campus,” said Harris. “I know people on campus, and they know me and it’s nice to have friends on the hockey team and not on the hockey team and just hang out with anyone here,” Harris said.
With that support, balancing two sports along with course work is easier than she thought it would be.
“I get a lot of free time during the day and usually it’s in the morning or at night that I have practices. As long as I am communicating with both coaches and they are communicating with me, it’s super easy,” Harris said.
When asked about the biggest difference from the United States and England, she pointed to sports as the big takeaway.
“The biggest thing in the states is that they take athletics in college more seriously than back at home,” Harris said.
Also, the level of competition compared to back home in her eyes is better, which is something she wanted.
“The hockey team is so skilled and at home there are some very good players, but the speed is a lot slower,” Harris said.
The speed has not been a hard adjustment for Harris as she currently leads the ice hockey team in points. She has a team leading five goals innine games including a game winner against Norwich earlier this season.
“I have developed so much more than I had been at home recently,” Harris added.
All that success does not go unnoticed and is starting to have an impact on the team as a whole.
“She does a great job leading by example, she’s super competitive, very hard on herself, and when you do that, your teammates notice that and makes it easier to play for someone that is giving it her all,” Head Coach Tim McAuliffe said.
That is McAuliffe’s goal, to have people around the women’s ice hockey program that will learn to play for the people they sit next to in the locker room.
“Emily is a great kid. That’s number one when you bring in kids and try to build a winning culture,” McAuliffe added.
With all the success Harris as had, she wishes her family could be here to experience it with her.
“The thing I miss about home is the sense of family and friends that I have known since I was young,” Harris said.
When the hockey team plays at 7 p.m., it is 12 a.m. England time but Harris said that her family and friends stay up to watch her play to support her even from a far.
“It was hard for me and hard for them to not be able to see my first season. For them to miss my first goal, it’s tough,” Harris said.
Harris pointed to two teammates who have really helped her transition to becoming a Spartan, Kaitlin Bardellini and Miranda Wheeler.
“Kaitlin is my best friend here. We both play field hockey and ice hockey, we have a lot in common, and she has definitely helped me just making it feel more like home,” she said. “Miranda is my mentor on the team, and she helps me just understand everything I need to know about being here,” Harris added.
Having those people around here have made the transition that much easier even though she is away from her family for the longest period ever.
“This is my first time being away from home and it’s a long stretch of seven months now. It’s crazy,” Harris said.
You can catch Harris and the rest of the women’s ice hockey team this coming weekend as they conclude their season with a home and away series against Plymouth State University. Puck drops at 4 p.m. Friday and can be streamed at castletonsports.com.