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Harrison Brings Spark To Lady Vols

Nov. 6, 2012


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- You can find her 6-foot-3 wingspan stretching to block any ball that comes her way.

But step off the hardwood and you can find her starting a dance party, flashing her 100-watt smile or even drinking from a Tinker Bell cup.

Lady Vol fans might know sophomore center Isabelle Harrison as a blocking machine on the court, but teammate Taber Spani knows "Izzy" a bit differently.

"She's so goofy, fun loving, loud," Spani said. "More than anything it's her smile. She lights up a room."

"Izzy by nature is a very effervescent, very positive person," assistant coach Dean Lockwood said. "She has a lot of life, a lot of juice. Anything that she comes into, whether it be a workout, a practice, a social life activity or something our players do in terms of community service, she brings great energy, a positive feel to it all. I think our players feed off of that."

Whether it is the weight room or the gym, Harrison always seems to find a way to have a little fun.

"She's always in the mix of that, always going to put on a dance show," Spani said.

In a family of 14, Harrison couldn't afford to be shy.

"It's kind of how you have to be in our house because if you're the slummy person you just get ran over and left out," sister DeeDee Harrison said. "So you want to be like everybody else and be happy and energetic."

"Having that energy we made up so many games," DeeDee added. "I bet we could patent one of them. We needed to use our energy somewhere, and that's why we got in to sports because we couldn't just sit still."

Aside from her secret obsession with Tinker Bell, Isabelle has always played sports, including basketball. After trying out gymnastics as a child, Harrison thought she might give baton twirling a try.

"I did gymnastics before and I loved it. I could flip and all that kind of stuff. But then for some reason in my mind I thought it would be the same with a silver stick. But it wasn't true at all," Harrison chuckled, nodding her head.

Like sister DeeDee who is middle blocker for the Lady Vol volleyball team, Harrison also played middle blocker for her high school volleyball team.

"I still love volleyball, but I love that (basketball) contact sport," Harrison said. "I like being involved in the game and having long reps and having to think on my feet. That's what I like most about it. I still love volleyball, but I left that to DeeDee."

"I think she liked the cheers in volleyball more than actually playing," DeeDee said.

So basketball it was for Harrison, as she made her way into the collegiate world of sport. Harrison is a native of Nashville and familiar with Vanderbilt athletics. Her father, Dennis Harrison, was a defensive lineman and a defensive line coach for the Commodores. As well as having DeeDee in Knoxville, Harrison knew of another face that was definitely worth seeing.

Pat Summitt.

"You don't have the chance to be around someone every day who is so knowledgeable and great in the game of basketball," Harrison said. "Having her there in practice and being able to talk to her [helps] you grow as a person. Whether you recognize it or not that day, it affects you in the long run. I'm really blessed to have that."

During her freshmen year at UT, Harrison spent most of her time learning under experienced seniors Glory Johnson and Vicki Baugh.

"They definitely told me not to give up on myself," Harrison said. "They've been through here and all the hard workouts and everything. They made it through, and they had a lot of faith that I could make it too. They took me under their wing. Whatever I needed they were there to take care of me just like another family member."

This year, the roles are reversed as three new post players, Nia Moore, Bashaara Graves and Jasmine Jones, join the squad.

"I'm the only post returning, and I have to carry last year's knowledge into this year," Harrison said. "Being more vocal and being more of a leader for the freshmen coming in."

"She's really taken the three of them in her group under her wing," Lockwood said. "She's really showing a lot of concern and care for them in terms of teaching them basic things like terminology, to some of the drills and the execution of those drills. She's done a great job mentoring and indoctrinating them in our terminology and our way of post play and at the same time trying to help them grow as players."

As her second season nears, Harrison remembers her first game in Thompson Boling Arena.

"Speechless. All the people that were there. The noises. The band. Everything. It was overwhelming," Harrison said. "I've never played in a gym like that. For that to be my first home game...most people don't get to play in those kinds of games throughout the year. For that to be your college arena where I play every week...I had to take it in. It took me back a little bit."

According to sister DeeDee, the excitement, jitters, and thankfulness haven't changed.

"She's so excited; she's so pumped," DeeDee said. "We talk about it probably every day. She's passionate about the game of basketball. Since she was little she loved this game and to see her be able to reach her dreams is very fun for me. She's embracing every moment. She's not running away from it. She's actually taking on the challenge and wanting to be the best when she's out there."

 

 

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