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Thread: Gonzaga Baseballís Brett Harris Guided by Something Special

  1. #1
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    Post Gonzaga Baseballís Brett Harris Guided by Something Special

    Baseballís Brett Harris Guided by Something Special

    Harrisí passion for special education led him to Gonzaga


    Brett Harris doesn't mince words. The Gonzaga third baseman is eloquent, but he's a glue guy; he's to the point, rarely wavering from it. It's a sign of someone who's been on a longer journey than most ó Chicago to Houston to Arizona to Spokane in five years ó and been placed around every personality type imaginable.

    "I'm someone who is very passionate about trying to make people around me better," he said after being asked to describe himself. A simple answer for a nearly impossible question, and a platitude that some would immediately discard. But when Harris says it, those who know him believe it.

    "I think it's just the true fabric of who he is," said GU assistant coach Brandon Harmon. "He's got passion for everything he does Ö he really lives it. He's an easy guy for us to point to, for new incoming guys or current guys ó Like, 'Hey, sometimes this college athletics thing seems a little daunting, but here's a great example of a guy who thrives with time management.'

    "It makes our life as coaches a little bit easier."

    A special education major at GU, Harris student teaches in a special needs classroom at Gary Middle School in Spokane as part of his coursework; the same classroom he assisted in all of last year as part of his practicum. It's what he devotes his energy to from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. five days a week ó practically a full-time job in and of itself, one with heftier responsibilities than on any baseball field.

    "He's trying out being the boss, essentially," said Richelle Hoenike, Harris' primary teacher who he assists all day. "He's trying out being in charge of all instruction, planning, prepping, and delivering, as well as communication with home, communication with administration, things like that.

    "He really is the guy ó he's the one in charge, or at least most of the way."

    This year, his teaching is partially online and partially in person ó something which to say complicates special ed instruction is a gross understatement. With each student on their own individualized education plan and technology issues abound, even more commitment and attention is required. Even when he's not running lessons, there are students of differing levels of ability who need to be checked on and assisted, both virtually and in-person.

    "You know, there's a lot that goes into teaching, but I just really believe in making them feel safe Ö coming from like a low income area a lot of these students look for a role model," he said. "I'm not going to be their friend, because that's not professional, but you know, I want to be someone who they can open up to and come to if there's problems or concerns and stuff at home."

    Hoenike said that Harris can't be gone for long without the students asking when he's coming back.

    "We joke that I'm the old lady and he's the new guy that's going to take over," she laughed. "And the kids really appreciate that. They expect his presence, they look for it and they appreciate it."

    All of the complications considered, Hoenike said she was relieved to have someone else to assist in both forms of instruction; "I don't really think it would have been nearly as possible had we not had him in our room last year."

    Teaching for special needs kids was the plan for Harris long before he even entertained the thought of playing at GU. After years building a relationship with a teammate's brother who suffered from cerebral palsy through childhood, he realized that he has a skillset and personality suited for serving others in similar situations.

    Harris' high school, John Hersey High in Arlington Heights, Ill., is well-known for its quality special education resources ó so much so that students are often bused in from outlying districts to get the assistance they need. His time as a helping student assistant in those classrooms gave him even more confidence in his plans for the future. Naturally, he hasn't drifted from it once in the years since.

    "Ever since, I've been pretty set on it," he said. "I'm pretty religious, pretty strong in my faith, and I kind of think that this is my calling. I enjoy it, and the kids make my day more than I make theirs."

    It's something Harris enjoyed so much that he wasn't willing to give it up when his coaches at Houston his freshman year told him he'd need to change his major to play baseball due to schedule conflicts. As he flatly stated, "I wasn't interested in doing that."

    So he transferred to Central Arizona CC to play juco ball while figuring out his next step ó one that took shape with him being recruited to play at Gonzaga for his final two years.

    It's not lost on him that being here, now, in Spokane finishing his bachelor's and playing baseball for GU in a pandemic, would've seemed like an alternate universe to him four years ago. But it's a place that he says he's known was home since the day he stepped on campus and promptly cancelled his other recruiting visits, committing on the spot. He remembers that day, calling his mother after the visit. She said she didn't know much about the school, so he told her to look it up.

    His words then: "This is it."...

    This article continued at the link

    Gonzaga Article Link

  2. #2
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    Thanks Terp.
    This post is for March Madness seeding purposes only.

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