Few people go to law school and then find themselves coaching Division I volleyball, but Katelyn Harrison, Belmont’s newest volleyball coach, just happens to be one of those people.
A native of Terre Haute, Indiana, Harrison’s love for volleyball goes all the way back to her childhood, beginning with her mother.
“My first memories of touching a volleyball was from her and the rec leagues she played in,” Harrison said. “She used to tell me as a punishment that I couldn’t go with her to volleyball that night.”
After playing on the United States Girls’ Youth National team in high school, receiving the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year award and claiming a spot in Volleyball Magazine’s Fab 50, Harrison found herself playing for the University of Southern California.
Following a stellar career with the USC Trojans where she and her teams earned two trips to the NCAA Final Four, Harrison attended Campbell Law School with the intent to leave volleyball behind and begin practicing law.
But she just couldn’t shake off being off the court.
“When I went to law school, I thought volleyball was done. Then, I immediately got into coaching. I’ve always kept the sport in my life, whether it is coaching club or college.”
Harrison graduated from Campbell the following summer, and pretty soon, she needed a job. That job would come from an old friend, who offered her a position coaching in Charleston, South Carolina — suddenly, Harrison had a huge choice to make.
“I told her, ‘I don’t want to coach in college. I want to practice law. I went to law school. I took my bar exam. I should practice law.’”
After five years of going back and forth between volleyball and law, volleyball finally won her over when she took the job at Belmont.
“This job was something I needed to go after,” said Harrison. “So when I got the call that I got the job, there were a lot of happy tears.”
Harrison wants her time at Belmont to be filled with growth, both on the court and off the court.
“I want the student athletes to have the full experience,” she said. “I want our kids to have a good balance. I want our kids to win on the court, succeed in the classroom and still have a good time while they are here.”
She sees the value in empowering a generation of young women to go out and succeed at a high level, while also embracing their identities in the process.
“I love the fact that as females we can be aggressive, athletic and physical, and still feel feminine,” said Harrison.
Harrison first fell in love with the game of volleyball because of her mother. No matter how far she strayed from the game, it always found a way back to her. Those who have impacted her career in volleyball have almost always been family, and now the Belmont team she coaches has become family to her as well.
This article by Ian Kayanja. Photo by Chloe Eberhardt.