Monarch Feature: Senior Brett Harris
By ODU Athletics
Brett Harris’ collegiate baseball career could not have started out much better. He was named CAA Rookie of the Year in 2009 and also earned Freshmen All-America honors, but following the season he began having arm issues and eventually needed Tommy John Surgery. Harris battled arm injuries for several years before returning in 2014 to help the Monarchs advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The 2008-2009 season began Harris’ college baseball career at Old Dominion and his main goal was to contribute to the team any way he possibly could in order to win.
After winning CAA Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman going 6-4 with five complete games while also batting .303 with 31 RBI, he injured his right arm led to the beginning of a dreadful and long journey.
Harris had Tommy John surgery in consecutive seasons, which is known as a surgical graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.
Doubt began to run through Harris’ head about his future. Leading up to his second surgery, Harris was on the fence of having the second procedure.
“A week up to the surgery I was having thoughts of if it was worth it,” Harris said. Coach LaVigne put it in perspective, telling me you’ll look back at this 10 years from now asking if I should have done it. He told me to get the surgery, and the team will be waiting for you once your healthy.”
Not being on the mound was a humbling experience for Harris. He played in just four games in 2010 and missed the entire 2011 season before coming back and having another surgery. “Will it my shoulder hurt if I just throw this one pitch?” was the question that ran through Harris’ head for years.
The only positive experience that he had was observing the game from a different perspective. While watching his team, he gave them advice and learned from their mistakes.
After months of rehab, sitting on the sidelines and conditioning, he has not felt pain in quite some time. “My arm is now healthy after three years of injuries,” said Harris. “Right now I’m just enjoying being back on the field.”
Being a Hampton Roads native, Harris graduated from Hickory High School in Chesapeake. Throughout the recovery, Harris’ father was his biggest supporter. “He never missed a home game even if I was not on the field,” Harris said. Mr. Harris pushed Brett to achieve his dream of playing college baseball and to not give up on the recovery process.
On April 29th the monarchs beat No.1 UVA with Harris being the starting pitcher. “The atmosphere was unbelievable,” he said. That win gave Harris and the team the motivation to work even harder heading into the Conference USA Tournament, and now for the first time in 14 years ODU is headed to the NCAA Tournament.
This is Harris’s last season of being a monarch, and with the team going to South Carolina it is his last big hoorah of his college career.
“This injury has made me grow so much as a baseball player and as a person,” Harris said. “It has made me a tougher person and to remind me that you really have to put in the work to come out successful.”