Slight Stature Belies Harris' Large Presence
Oct. 3, 2002
When Washington State senior LaToya Harris stands in the front row on the volleyball court she has to tilt her head back to look up the 21 inches to see the top of the net. At 5-foot 7 inches tall, Harris is far shorter than the typical Division I outside hitter playing collegiate volleyball these days.
But being a height-challenged player in a tall woman's sport has really only presented problems for Cougar opponents during Harris' four-year career. The left-handed Portland, Ore., native has actually played most of time hanging above the net, thanks to her 30-inch vertical leaping abilities.
'She is so exciting to watch,' WSU Coach Cindy Fredrick said. 'From the moment she stepped on the court, she's been a real crowd pleaser. Not only does she jump over the net, she can really pound the ball down and that catches people off guard. I love it.'
Harris brings a lot of power in a small package but has not been overlooked by the other coaches in the conference. The three-year Cougar captain has been selected twice to the All-Pac-10 first team after earning first team all-freshman honors. She is certainly headed toward more honors as she has been an integral part of the 19th-ranked Cougars' 11-2 start.
Even with all of her success on the volleyball court, Harris will tell you this sport was not her top choice out of Parkrose High.
'I wanted to play softball. That was my number one love,' Harris admits. 'I happened to play club volleyball and people saw me and I never played softball on a summer team. Once I got into Club Nike, that was so much fun that I committed my time to that.'
The cannon-like arm once used behind the plate on the fastpitch diamond to gun down runners at second base, moved indoors and the rest is becoming WSU history. Except for a brief slump following a spring knee surgery her sophomore year, 'T' has been at the top of the stats.
Harris will leave Washington State with her name firmly entrenched in the school's all-time records. Going into this week's matches against No. 17 Arizona and No. 24 Arizona State, Harris needs only 14 digs to become the third Cougar in school history to reach both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. She will join Keren Oigman (1,054 kills, 1,070 digs) and Shannon Wyckoff (1,051 kills, 1,254 digs), who both played for Fredrick from 1994-97.
Harris is currently fourth in WSU career kills with 1,238, fourth in service aces with 120, and sixth in digs with 986. She needs only 27 more blocks to reach 10th on the total blocks list.
After graduation Harris plans to keep playing volleyball on the Olympic and professional levels.
'I want to play until I can't anymore. That's a dream I've had since I was little,' Harris said. 'I also want to be a college coach. After coaching at summer camps, I've had people tell me I'm good at it.'
If her coaching career reaches the heights of her collegiate playing career, Harris will certainly prove that short stature does not mean small.