Castleton junior Emily Harris has been a freak of nature for the women’s field hockey team this season. Harris sat down Thursday to talk about her athletic experience, and her journey from England to CU.
Q. Not only do you play field hockey, you play ice hockey too. What’s your history with the two sports? Do you have a favorite?
A. Originally, I came to Castleton because I would be able to play both sports. I was kinda leaning towards ice hockey because I love the adrenaline you get with ice hockey, but since I’ve been here, I’ve found the love for both of them again, and I don’t really have a favorite anymore. It’s fairly even. Growing up I definitely preferred ice hockey, but nowadays it’s pretty even.
Q. By doing both sports, are you at all involved with ice hockey during field hockey season?
A. Yeah, so as soon as coach got on the ice for ice hockey, Kaitlin Bardellini and I started going to ice hockey practices too. This crossover period is about three or four weeks, and we train two or three times a week for ice hockey and then we go about our normal training schedule for field hockey. It’s pretty intense, but it’s good fun.
Q. I’ve been checking the numbers and the articles, and your season has just been insane. In addition to all the hat-tricks and player of the week titles, and now you’re leading all of Division III in scoring per game. What is going on that’s allowing for this performance?
A. I’d say our team this season is a lot more intense than last season. Kaitlin Bardellini and I are kind of a duo on the field, and we kinda feed off each other. The outcome is that we both get the results that we want to see.
Q. What do you do for a pre-game routine that gets you amped up?
A. Well if it’s a class day, I’ll obviously go to my classes in the morning. If it’s a home game, I usually get to the locker room a little early and get my hair put in cornrows, which is Mine and Kaitlin’s signature hairstyle for home games. The weirdest ritual I have is I chug an entire can of Pepsi right before we go to the field every game. It’s weird but it works.
Q. Around this time last year I spoke with your head coach, Emily Lowell, and she talked about how important it is that you guys have such a strong bond. How does that bond carry onto the field?
A. It’s probably the most important aspect of any team sport to have a tight-knit family as a team. We hang out all the time outside of field hockey, and we’re just about inseparable. Obviously we have different groups within the team, but at the end of the day we all know we’re family. Then there’s some pairs of players who are completely inseparable, like Kaitlin and I. We’re all very close, we all have each other’s backs, and we love each other a lot.
Q. You came to America from England. What brought you to the U.S., and what brought you to CU?
A. I wanted to go to the U.S. for sports since I was 6 or 7 years old. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, because I always saw on the tv how serious sports are out here. If I were to go to university at home, it’s not taken as seriously, and my joy of growing up was to play the most competitive style of sport that I could.I was always very driven from a young age, and that’s what brought me over to the states. What brought me to CU was the fact that I could play both sports. I was looking at bigger schools, and I would’ve gone Division I for one of my sports, but I wouldn’t have been able to play both sports if I went D-I. I was in a very difficult position where I had to either drop a sport, or come to a place like this where sports are so driven. I love both my teams, and I knew I’d fit right in, so I chose to go to Castleton. I knew it was such a family, and I wasn’t ready to lose one of my sports.
Q. When you first came to America, did it take you a while to adjust to the culture?
A. The hardest thing was just being so far away from home. My freshman year was the COVID year, so we were trapped in our dorms most of the time except for practices. Not being able to have that freedom was difficult when I was also missing home. Other than that, the culture suits me a lot better than at home. People are more relaxed here than at home which I really like, because if I’m around someone who’s very stressed then I get stressed too.
Q. Last year I talked to some of the international hockey players, and they said their teammates were a huge part of helping them adjust to life in America. Was that the case for you too?
A. Yes, definitely. I felt like I knew my entire team before I even stepped foot on campus. They helped me with everything like knowing where to be or what to bring. That was really important because I was going into a whole new lifestyle. Having a connection to help me from the moment I got here was really important. Also I was in quarantine the first 10 days and I was just in the dorms, but people would come and sit outside of the quarantine dorms and talk to me for the majority of the day, and for me that was super important in helping me adjust.