DeMichael Harris receives second Gatorade Play of the Year award

Published 12:29 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

There was a time when St. Aloysius graduate DeMichael Harris quit running track.

After his ninth-grade year with the Flashes, he decided he didn’t like the sport, until coach Michael Fields took over the program and showed him how to win.

“I think a lot of it was he wasn’t successful in his earlier days,” Fields said. “Once he tasted some success I made him a believer.”

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Imagine if Harris never took heed of Fields’ persuasion. He would’ve never been selected as a back-to-back Gatorade Player of the Year – announced early Friday morning – or have broken as many records as a track athlete.

At the MAIS Class AAA state meet, he became the first high school athlete to run under 21 seconds in the 200 meters. He ran the 100 and 400 meters and clocked record times of 10.55 and 47.96 respectively.

Harris found out about his selection from Fields and was sent a link by his track coach from Hinds Community College where he’ll play as a slot receiver in football in addition to running track.

When he finished his art history summer class, he checked to see if it was true.

“It’s a blessing honestly. I want to thank my coaches, parents, God. It shows that hard work pays off. I put a lot into it and it shows how much I got out of it,” Harris said.

Upon their initial meeting, Fields always knew Harris was talented enough to be Division I athlete and showed flashes of having extraordinary talent.

With all the recognition received in the past year alone, Harris remains humble and true to the foundation he was raised on from his father, uncles and other family members.

But, all of Harris’ success in track would’ve been speculation without Fields. He was able to get Harris to buy into the program 100 percent and changed his lifestyle habits by getting more rest and eating properly.

Fields believes Harris’ attitude will take him to a more decorated career at Hinds as he further develops into his adult body, and to a successful life.

“It was an honor to be able to work with him for two years and I know some of his work habits will branch off to others around him,” Fields said.

With his high school career behind him, he knows running in college won’t be easy. He said he’s great at the high school level, but is “mediocre” at the college level.

He had a chance to run against a perspective teammate at Pearl and lost, so developing strength to finish the race is a top priority.

But, football season is rapidly approaching. Team practices will be cranked up in July and he’ll be in a new position at Hinds more suited to his smaller size. His attitude remains constant for both sports, which is striving to be the best.

“I don’t want to have to sit out,” Harris said. “I want to start and want to be the best on the team.”