A Caymanian teenager is quickly establishing herself as one of volleyball’s best prospects in the U.S., which augurs well for Cayman because she wants to play at senior level for her homeland.
Hot off a fifth-place finish with her indoor volleyball team at the USA Junior National Championships last month, Marissa Harrison, 14, has scored big again – this time on the beach.
Harrison and her partner Charlie Ekstrom tied for an impressive fifth-place team finish in the Beach Volleyball Clubs of America National Championships earlier this month. Competing in the 14-and-under division at the Hermosa Beach, California national tournament, they were up against 60 of the best club teams from across the U.S. Harrison and Ekstrom won their pool and advanced deep into the tournament until losing to the team that would become the eventual silver medalists.
“It was fun but super competitive,” said Harrison. “My partner and I really clicked together and played well. I think with more experience we can do even better next year. Beach volleyball is great. It’s brutal as far as competitiveness but somehow it’s still so much fun.”
Harrison plays for 692, one of the top beach volleyball clubs in the U.S. Southern California has long been one of the world’s hotbeds of elite beach volleyball and this is reflected in her demanding training sessions.
“It’s fun when we train but it’s also a lot of hard work,” she said. “We don’t just hit balls. We do a lot of intense physical training in the sand, too. But I love it all. You have to work hard to get better.”
After a few more summer tournaments, the next big challenge on Harrison’s horizon will be high school indoor tryouts. Her goal is to make the varsity squad as a freshman.
Harrison, a former Montessori By The Sea student and Lower Valley resident, lives in southern California with parents Sheree and Guy Harrison and brother Jared.
“We’re happy about her accomplishments, of course,” said Guy. “We love watching her play. It’s great that she has fallen in love with such a beautiful sport. And it’s truly cool to watch my little baby girl transform into this amazing athlete.
“But I’m most proud of what she’s been doing in the classroom. She is even better in school than on the volleyball court.”
Harrison was awarded the Presidential Medal for Academic Achievement at her recent graduation from middle school. She maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average for all three years of middle school.
“Hopefully one day when I’m older I can represent Cayman in volleyball,” she added. “That would be a dream come true. I think the Cayman Islands is perfect for beach volleyball. Seven Mile Beach is so beautiful.
“We have a lot of potential for hosting tournaments and developing good players. Maybe one day we can shock the world.”