When an indoor club coach told Mansfield volleyball player Lindsay Harris he could see her as a sand player, her immediate reaction was to dismiss him.
“At first I was like, ‘What the heck? No way,’ Harris said. “But I tried it out and I liked it a lot more actually than the court. So it just became something I found myself enjoying a lot more. I found myself doing that a lot more than court.”
And now Harris has become the first player from Mansfield High to make beach volleyball her ticket to college. The senior has committed to Houston Baptist, one of the schools in Texas offering beach volleyball as an NCAA scholarship sport.
“For the longest time, I always wanted to play indoor in college,” Harris said. “Once I started playing beach and getting interest from colleges, I realized this could be something I would enjoy a lot more and still be able to get an education in Texas. So, that was really exciting for me when the sand recruiting process started. I liked it a lot better than indoor. So when I started getting interest from colleges, it was sort of a no-brainer.”
Prior to that, though, Harris has one final season of high school indoor volleyball with the Lady Tigers. Despite having her future mapped out, the outside hitter wants to relish her final year at MHS.
“I am trying to take this senior year so slowly,” she said. “It came so fast, I didn’t expect it. It just hit me like last week that I’m going to be a senior, so I’m going to take it slow and focus on the main goal, to get to the playoffs.”
Getting to the postseason is something Harris hasn’t done with her Lady Tigers teammates. She’s hoping to help change that this year. The 2017 campaign starts this month, and Harris ready to put aside the sand for now. She doesn’t think the transition from beach court to hard court is very difficult, and in fact, feels her time in the sand only helps her indoor game.
“It helps me jump a lot better,” she said. “Your vertical doesn’t really increase as drastically as it does in the beach. So playing beach all summer then going to court, you definitely see a difference in your jumping. I also think it makes me a lot quicker on the court, because there’s so much ground to cover in the sand. There are a lot of benefits transitioning from sand into court.”
Mansfield graduated nine seniors from last year’s club, but Harris is one of three key returning players for the Lady Tigers this season.
“I’m definitely very excited for school season,” she said. “It’s going to be a really good season. My class, we’ve all been together for three years basically, so my age group, we’re really excited for this season for sure.”
In order for the team to accomplish its goals, it will need significant contributions from some underclassmen. And speaking of underclassmen, Harris says she has seen more of them around the sand courts, perhaps looking to hone their skills or explore the same route this trailblazer took to college.
“I have seen some of the underclassmen from Mansfield at my club practicing beach, so that was really exciting to see people younger than me take an interest in it,” she said.