HILLSBORO, Ore. - Pacific Lutheran senior volleyball player Mackenzie Harris is featured in this week's Student-Athlete Spotlight. Last season, Harris was named to the All-NWC Second Team and earned American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honorable mention in addition to ranking second nationally in blocks. Playing in 555 career matches thus far, Harris is an integral part of the nationally 14th-ranked Lutes team.
"Being a part of the PLU volleyball team has been incredible," says Harris. The program has brought me lifelong friendships and challenged me to become a better leader. PLU volleyball really aligns with all of the things I value most like family, respect, and hard work. PLU volleyball has something very special that I had never experienced before becoming a part of the team."
Harris notes the Pacific Lutheran Special Olympics basketball clinic as a highlight of her collegiate athletic experience. "I think being able to spend time with the Special Olympics athletes that play because they want to spend time with friends and love playing sports puts why I play volleyball into perspective. I play not only because I love to compete, but also because I get to create relationships with awesome people and enjoy spending time with them every day," she says. Her experience with Special Olympics athletes inspired her to continue to participate within the organization. "After the first Special Olympics Basketball clinic I worked I actually reached out to Special Olympics Washington and began coordinating basketball and soccer tournaments for high school Unified Sports teams in the area, so I could be around those athletes more often."
Majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sports Psychology, Harris credits her Division III experience for allowing her to pursue both athletics and academics. "I think PLU has given me the chance to focus on schoolwork just as much as athletics, which is unique to Division III. I think being in an environment that values academics and athletics has given me the chance to develop great time management skills, as well as receive a more one on one education and really get to know my professors."
Acknowledging time management as one of her key skills, Harris uses her time aside from schoolwork and volleyball to serve as an intramural referee. "As an intramural referee you learn the skill of patience," she noted. "After a while, I learned to just have fun watching the team have fun. The people that play intramurals are usually not out there to destroy the other teams, they just want to have fun. I think once I learned to be patient and have fun with the teams, I was able to appreciate students being willing to put themselves out there, possibly look a little goofy, and be physically active."
Harris and the Lutes volleyball team will face Pacific (Ore.) at home and Linfield on the road this weekend to kick off the second round of conference play.