William Inman, 404-413-1355
Chan Harris doesn't really remember when it happened — just that it hurt.
“Honestly, I don't know,” she says, struggling to recall when, early in the 2009 season, she developed a stress fracture in the navicular bone of her right foot. “I just kept playing on it, and it just broke. What I do remember was that it was very painful.”
|In her first game back against Georgia Tech last season, Chan Harris scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds and three blocks.|
Then a junior, Harris was emerging into dominant post player for the Panthers. In the first game of the season, the 6-foot-2-inch forward scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds during a 77-52 demolition of Kennesaw State.
For the next few games, Harris played through the pain. Then, on Dec. 16, as the Panthers warmed up to take on Delaware State in Dover, Del., trainers took her off the court. Doctors back home had noticed a full-blown crack in her foot in her latest X-ray.
What ensued was a long and painful rehabilitation.
“I felt like I was peaking as a player,” she remembers. “Then to have an injury like that where I was casted up for a whole year … it was tough. But I had to stay positive and tell myself it was one day at a time.”
It was exactly 365 long days before Harris suited up again for the Panthers. In her first game back against Georgia Tech, Harris scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds and three blocks. It was the first of 13 double-doubles she would post during her bounce back season — one in which she earned All-CAA honors after ranking third in the conference in both rebounds and blocks.
Now, as she gets set to tip off her final season with the basketball team, she will, in all likelihood, top 1,000 points and become just the fifth player in school history to record 100 career blocks.
But her head coach, Sharon Baldwin-Tener, is expecting more from her senior leader than just big numbers in the box scores.
“Chan brings a lot to this team, and she's been a leader by example,” Baldwin-Tener says. “She has worked very hard during the summer and it's showing. She gives the younger players someone to look up to as far as work ethic and what it takes to get better every day.”
Harris says she got that fire to always get better when she was playing with the neighborhood boys growing up. Harris comes from a basketball family; her father, Charles, played for Iowa State, and her brother, Marvelle, is a sophomore forward for Campbell University.
“I used to beat my brother a lot growing up, but now it's kind of shifted,” she says. “The last time we played, he beat me, and that was it. No more.”
Harris also holds the distinction of being the only GSU athlete to be named to an All-CAA team in two sports. In 2009, she finished second in the high jump at the CAA Championships and earned All-CAA honors.
As she gears up for her last basketball season, Harris is well into her first semester working toward a master's degree in sports administration.
This past summer, she interned for the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers where she was able to use what she learned during her own difficult recovery to help rehabilitate patients and teach them how to avoid injuries.
“It was a great experience,” she remembers. “I would shadow their therapists, and I was able to demonstrate and lead patients through some [preventative] exercises.”
It has been a lot of hard work, Harris says, getting back into playing condition. But, as Baldwin-Tener can attest, Harris is not afraid to put forth the effort to get what she wants.
“She's an extremely hard worker and she wants to win,” Baldwin-Tener says. “She has her priorities in order and takes care of her business on and off the court.”
Note: Harris and the GSU women's basketball team open the season at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9 in an exhibition game against Young Harris. On Sunday, Nov. 13, they play host to Arizona at the Sports Arena.