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Athlete Spotlight: Grant Harris’ development a big key in La Habra’s success

Grant Harris listens intently to a gameplan from Head Coach David Edwards, during a timeout taken in La Habra's 11-8 win over Buena Park last Thursday. Grant's offensive adjustments led to five straight goals in the fourth quarter.
Grant Harris listens intently to a gameplan from Head Coach David Edwards, during a timeout taken in La Habra’s 11-8 win over Buena Park last Thursday. Grant’s offensive adjustments led to five straight goals in the fourth quarter. Shane Morines, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

La Habra senior Grant Harris admitted that being a leader and captain can be a tough gig.

However, when it comes to leading by example, Grant is the perfect fit for a Highlanders’ team that had to fight for a playoff spot last week.

“It’s not easy at all guiding other people, I couldn’t be a coach,” Grant admitted. “I just try to get everyone together and in the same mindset to try and win a game.”

Trailing by three goals heading into the fourth quarter of a crucial matchup with Buena Park last Thursday, Grant scored five consecutive goals to help La Habra overturn the deficit and force a one-game playoff.

That performance alone made Friday’s game easier on his teammates as Buena Park’s defense keyed in on him, allowing Sean Pedersen to score seven goals. His perimeter defense was strong as well.

“We were down by three goals heading into the fourth quarter,” he said of Thursday’s game. “If we lose, it could be my last game ever and I didn’t want to go down that way, on the road against Buena Park. I wanted to put some goals away.”

While Grant described himself as more of a defensive player, his coach, David Edwards, has wanted to develop him on offense and utilize his outside shot.

Couple that with his ability to play strong two-meter defense and Edwards has a pretty good combination against counterattacks.

But Grant’s role expanded with his selection as team captain alongside Sean Pedersen. The duo started playing water polo together when they were in the 6th grade.

“We do a leadership group formed from all the juniors going into their senior year,” Edwards said.  “We spend a lot of time together forming and articulating our goals for the next season and how we’ll get there. Grant was selected because he was aware of the deficits he had as a leader and was willing to work on them. He wanted that ability to take a leadership role on the team and he felt like he worked hard and deserved it.”

On top of that, Grant’s goals for this season were to have fun and improve on his scoring.

One of the highlights for him this season was handing Troy its first blemish in Freeway League play since 2007, snapping a 52-game Freeway League winning streak in the process.

“I think that Troy game brought us together well since no one had done that in a long time,” he said. “We became a lot smarter after that despite some losses we shouldn’t have taken. That was one of the best games we’ve ever had.”

Grant’s passion for water polo began with Tyler Copley, who is a close friend to Grant’s older brother Chad. When the two of them started playing together was when Grant started to take notice.

It wasn’t long before he was learning how to egg-beat and swim at La Mirada Splash, which led to playing with La Mirada Armada.

And while Grant prides himself on his defense, he loves the opportunity to take a five-meter penalty shot.

“I love five-meter shots, they’re my favorite thing ever,” he said. “Just getting up big and shooting it in is always fun.”

The senior had an opportunity and converted in the decisive third-place game Friday, which allowed La Habra to continue its season and also allowed Grant to continue to be a leader by example.

“For Grant his comfort is definitely his defense, that’s where he feels the most confident,” Edwards said. “As a coach, and most of the other coaches he’s worked with have said that Grant has the capability of being a dominant player offensively and it’s just been us pushing…. [But Thursday] was all him. We were getting opportunities early, they just weren’t going in. In the fourth quarter they kept leaving him open and he took every single opportunity and converted goals.”

While finishing up his senior season in the pool, Grant enjoys studying History and had a particular interest in Physics. However, as of now, he enjoys studying Forensics, which coincides with a possible field of study in criminal justice.

In his spare time, he enjoys staying outdoors and riding his dirt bike, or taking trips to the river for water skiing and wakeboarding.

And it’s not hard to see where Grant’s hard work comes from.

“I would have to say my dad is my biggest role model,” he said. “He’s a good guy, he’s a cop and works hard.”

As Grant’s senior year starts to wind down, his goals are still team oriented. While he still wants to have fun and achieve good grades to close out his career at La Habra, in the pool with his teammates, he wants to have no regrets.

“I just want us to work together,” he said. “Regardless of how far we go, I want us to leave it all in the pool and say we were proud of what we accomplished.”

If Grant and the team employ the same mindset it had last Thursday and Friday, there’s no reason to anticipate anything less.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.