In the absence of a Senior season, Niya Harris ’21 has worked to connect Girls Basketball and improve overall chemistry while off campus. Harris is from Atlanta, Georgia and has been playing basketball since the fifth grade. Beginning her career at Andover on the Junior Varsity team, Harris is proud to be co-captain in her final year. According to Alanna Olsen ’23, Harris supports every player on the team and creates a lively energy that pushes the team to improve.
“Niya is always super encouraging and always has insightful advice to give. When she is not on the court, she is cheering for the team, and when she is on the court, she is giving advice to others and being really helpful at all times,” Olsen said.
How did you get started with basketball and what is your background in the sport?
I started because my older brother was playing and I just really wanted to do what he was doing. I loved it. It has always been a way for me to make friends and have fun. I stuck with it and obviously, carried it into high school. Basketball was just such a big part of my life and I remember when I was on JV, every weekend, I would go to the gym in the mornings and play for hours.
What do you love most about playing basketball?
The chemistry I have with my teammates [is what I love most about playing basketball]. I love making a big play or a great pass and working with my teammates. When one of us does something good, it is one of the best feelings.
What makes basketball at Andover special?
We see each other all the time. I see my teammates in the dorm, and even for those who are Day students, I see them in [Paresky Commons]. We have team dinners during the season and outside of the season, I see them in [Paresky], I go to their games either because I want to go root for them or I just happen to be there. I am in classes with some of them. It is just being so connected with my teammates is what makes Andover great.
What has been your favorite basketball memory at Andover?
One [memory] is outside of playing basketball where we went over to one of my teammates’ house and we did a Secret Santa around Christmas. We went around and got our gifts and that whole day was amazing. We ate dinner together and we were playing ping-pong downstairs in their basement. We were just hanging out and it was really cool to just bond with the team and it was one of the many things that I will never forget. Another memory during the season was when we played a team that was huge and we weren’t big. They were a good team too and had some good players, but we worked really hard and ended up beating them and I don’t think anyone expected us to based off of how we looked. I remember we beat them and they were so mad, but I will never forget how loud and excited the bench was because that was really what pushed us to win that game.
What are your goals as a co-captain?
I think my goals as a captain are to foster a good environment on the team and chemistry among the team, making a habit of cheering on teammates and clapping for them during practices and outside of practices. Staying connected with the team and hyping them up when they have their own events. That’s one of our goals to create that chemistry and another one that Summer, my co-captain, and I had was to be open and honest on what we can improve on skill wise because that was something we were lacking previously. We wanted to normalize those conversations because a lot of people might feel uncomfortable like you are criticizing them, but when you normalize them you create an environment that makes us better.
What is your favorite team tradition?
I think my favorite team tradition is team dinners because it’s really fun after a hard practice to go to dinner together to laugh, bond and have fun. It’s definitely one of my favorite traditions even though it is small, but it makes me happy, especially in the winter when it is dark and it makes everything feel happier, positive, and more exciting.
How are you trying to connect your team despite being off campus?
Right now, we are doing meetings every Wednesday to connect and see how everything is doing, and do different things like watching women’s college games or [Women’s National Basketball Association] games or watching movies to connect. We are focusing on staying connected by sending drills as an option to do at your house and stay connected to those who are playing [Amateur Athletic Union] as well. Just texting in the group chat, sending something funny, or shouting out people in the group chat.