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Admin formerly soccer star, coach

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Born in England, assistant principal Mark Harris moved to the United States as a five year old kid. He was ahead in school, as he started school in the UK earlier than his American peers. He spoke with an accent and was beaten up many times for sounding different. Today, he still is a British citizen and renews his green card every ten years. As a Brit living in America, though, he brought his love for soccer from his home country and has been heavily involved in the sport since high school.

As a high school student, Harris was an accomplished athlete playing on county and state level teams. At that time was when he started volunteering as a youth coach. He would drive his sister to his soccer practice, sit wait for her, and then take her to his practice where his parents would pick her up.

“You can only sit in the car so long,” he said.

He stepped on the field to dribble a ball around one day during her practice and was noticed by the coach, who asked if he would be willing to help out with the team of 13 year old girls, where he flourished.

“I eventually went from demonstrator to instructional person to whatever, to the formal assistant coach,” Harris said. “I got to coach some top-notch players and got to win multiple state titles in a couple years and got to go to regionals all over the northwest.”

While still in high school and teaching the 13 year olds, he was asked to take a position with a second team.

“Two of the moms ganged up on me once and said, ‘Would you stay after and help with our younger daughters’ team?’ So I did,” he said.

The coach of that team, made up of 11 year olds, didn’t know much of what they were doing, and Harris soon pretty much took over coaching of that team. Between the two girls teams, they both went through and took state titles for Western Regionals.

“I was having some success coaching. But, as any coach, really I just didn’t screw up the kids,” he said. “It was about the athletes. All I did really was let them perform to their ability and not get in their way.”

By that point, some of the girls he had originally helped coach were playing for the across-town high school, and the coach there had heard about him and called him to be the assistant high school coach. He was out of high school, not sure what he was doing now that he had graduated, and was also a manager for the under-20 team he was playing on with friends, as a 17 year old. Their team played in the Men’s Open League, often against ex-collegiate and ex-pro athletes from all over the Northwest.

Their team played in the Men’s Open League, often against ex-collegiate and ex-pro athletes from all over the Northwest.”

“That was kinda cool. That really kept my skills as a player sharp, and then I went off to that coaching school,” he said.

The school, at the time called C-License Clinic, is the equivalent of what now is the USAA Soccer’s National Coaching School. He was a young adult when he went, surrounded by coaches from all over.

“I had some people asking me, ‘So, where do you play? Who do you play for?’” He said.

He got snatched up by one of many coaches that offered him scholarships to go play for them and ended up at Whitworth University, where he graduated from.

During his college years, he continued his coaching career while also playing for Whitworth. His college coach found out he had experience coaching. A year and a half later his coach took over the Mead High School boys team he had been coaching for in addition to the college team and resigned from his college position after being given the position of athletic director and girls’ coach, in addition to boys’ coach, and he invited Harris to help out with the high school team as a sort of college student mentor.

“That team went to the Final Four in the State Championship two years running, and one of those players was Jason Hansen, the football star,” he said.

Harris helped at Mead for two and a half years while in college and played at Whitworth during that time, for all but his last year while he was student teaching.

Harris helped at Mead for two and a half years while in college and played at Whitworth during that time.”

From Whitworth, he came straight to the Puyallup School District and worked as a teacher at Riverside Elementary.

“I came back here and taught at the elementary school, and at that point if you were gonna be an elementary teacher you couldn’t teach secondary,” Harris said. “So I did basically the equivalent of lunch/recess intramurals.”

After a couple years at elementary he began coaching a club team. After four years, the position for the head girls coach at Puyallup High School opened.

“I had had a lot of success coaching girls with my sister’s team, so we had a conversation at home and decided I would switch to secondary,” he said.

He switched to Ballou Junior High and accepted the head coach position at PHS, where he coached the girls team for 15 years and the boys team for five or six years. He led the Vikings soccer teams to several championships.

He switched to Ballou Junior High and accepted the head coach position at PHS, where he coached the girls team for 15 years and the boys team for five or six years. He led the Vikings soccer teams to several championships. ”

Harris was at Ballou for as long as his daughters were there, then decided he needed a new challenge. He got his principal credentials finished and was told he would be moving to an administrative position at Walker High School at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, then was told just a few days before school started that he would instead be an admin at ERHS. As an administrator, he can’t coach in the high school and doesn’t have time to take on a team in the community. While he enjoys his position here, he misses coaching.

After moving to Walker, knowing he wouldn’t be too busy because they don’t have an athletic program, he got his referee’s license and reffed throughout the summer at tournaments.

“We got to the spring and it was probably end of March,” Harris said. “And two of the upper guys in terms of experience and influence in the Pierce County Referees association said, ‘We want you to put your name in for doing the state tournament this year from our association.’ So I did and I got to go.”

Since his move to ER, he’s been unable to stay as involved in soccer, though he goes to Jag games.

“It’s frustrating to go to those games and see coaching decisions I wouldn’t make, not that their wrong, they’re just not what I would do, and reffing decisions that are just wrong. Sometimes I want to ask for their whistle. So that’s always a challenge having to not be involved in those things,” he said. “It’s still a lot of fun though.”

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The student news site of Emerald Ridge High School | Puyallup, Washington
Admin formerly soccer star, coach