Former Hillcrest football star makes collegiate waves on, off field
Dec 01, 2016 03:11PM ● Published by Travis Barton
Andy Harris intercepts the ball against nationally ranked Linfield College (Ore.) on Oct. 8. Harris was named to the academic all-district team. (Tanner Boyle/Pacific University)
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By Travis Barton | firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Harris, a former Hillcrest football player, was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Football team for the second straight year. Harris is a senior defensive back at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. Harris was also named to the all-Northwest Conference second team for his efforts on the field.
The academic award is given to the nation’s top student athletes for their combined performances both athletically and academically. It’s chosen by sports information directors across the nation.
“It’s always exciting to be recognized for doing anything well, no matter if it’s the first, second however many times you get it,” Harris said.
A three-time Northwest Conference Scholar-Athlete and four-time member of the Pacific University Dean’s List, Harris holds a 3.89 grade point average as an accounting/finance major. He also co-authored a research paper with one of his professors that was published in “The Review of Business Journal.”
“For all the effort he puts in both academically and athletically, it’s just a thrill for us [as parents] to see him recognized for that hard work,” said Mike Harris, Andy’s father.
Andy has played football since he was 11 and Mike said they tried to instill in their son the relationship between the two fields.
“Good grades will get you the opportunity to play football,” Mike said.
Living the life of a student-athlete can be time consuming. With mandatory practices and team meetings, Andy said balancing his life both inside the classroom and on the field requires time management.
“It’s mostly about making sacrifices, maybe not doing the fun stuff that you want to do…it’s just sacrificing some of those activities to make sure school work gets done,” Harris said.
Coming to college and being on your own naturally presents varying choices. It’s important for incoming student athletes, Harris said, to remember the priorities that got you there — academics and athletics.
“You can go a bunch of different routes [in college] but you need to maintain the things that are most important,” Harris said. He added that social distractions can be the common noise to divert attention away from those priorities.
While Harris has always been a good student GPA-wise, it wasn’t until he returned from serving a two-year LDS mission to San Antonio, Texas that he developed the academic focus that he has now.
“He’s a humble kid, he leads by example and he just works hard and I think that’s the most important thing,” Mike said.
His work ethic is not limited to the classroom, through eight games in the 2016 season, Harris had 20 tackles, eight pass breakups and 10 pass deflections. The cornerback became the first Pacific Boxer football player in over three years to have two interceptions in one game when he did so against nationally ranked Linfield (Ore.).
In Andy’s four years at Pacific, his parents have missed a total of four games. “We’ve been fortunate and blessed to watch him grow and progress,” Mike said. He noted the challenge it was for Andy to transition to collegiate athletics.
“At every other level he’s always been able to step and perform well, but he really had to work hard,” Mike said.
Coming to Pacific University afforded Andy opportunities he might not otherwise enjoyed had he chosen not to pursue an athletic career at a smaller school.
Athletically Andy was able to “learn more of the fundamentals of football and gain a greater appreciation especially spending so much time with it.” While academically he said he enjoyed smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time with professors.
“It’s really been an experience that’s shaped a future for me,” Andy said. With the help of his professors and coaches, Andy said he discovered his affinity for business and financial analytics.
“I really gained a passion for it and I feel like it’s something I could enjoy doing for the rest of my life,” Andy said.
As for his future, Andy said he’s keeping his options open. Graduate and Ph.D. programs are being considered as well as different career choices in the financial industry and a professorship.
“Hopefully the competitiveness that he’s learned…he’ll carry on with it and it’ll help in whatever he chooses to do moving forward,” Mike said.