COLUMBIA — Standing at 6 feet, 3 inches, wearing men’s size 10 1/2 basketball shoes, junior Katherine Harry towers above her teammates. It would be easy to rely on her height to get all of her points. Instead, Harry has spent the past year making improvements to her game.
Not that she has been playing badly. The Rock Bridge girls basketball team finished 23-3 last year, and Harry led the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocks and field goal percentage. Harry, however, wants to lead the Bruins to another successful season this year.
So, during last season and the offseason, Harry began spending more time in the weight room so she could play with the more physical girls in the post. Along with her teammates, she would go to the weight room about three times a week in the summer.
“I was a pretty scrawny girl and got knocked off the ball easily,” Harry said. “Getting bigger has enabled me to develop as a player. I went from benching the bar to doing three or four sets at 100 pounds,” she said.
Rock Bridge coach Jill Nagel said she has noticed a change.
“When she came in, she was 25 pounds lighter and not as coordinated. She was a tall kid that was still learning the game,” Nagel said. “She has been a sponge over time and has bulked up in muscle weight. She put on 20 pounds of muscle and has become a much better athlete.”
Harry’s decision to bulk up came from her drive to become a better player.
“I wanted to be above the rest and take my game to the next level,” she said. “By lifting, I was not only bettering myself now, but I was preparing for the future.”
Along with becoming more physical to improve her play in the post, Harry has added a new dimension to her game. She has developed a jump shot to give her even more of an advantage against other players at her position.
“I was a little bit scared of going in and banging against the bigger bodies, so I stepped out and shot more,” Harry said. “This summer, I began practicing the shot more.”
Still, finishing around the basket is where Harry collected most of her points last year, and it is something Nagel still wants her to improve.
“She is continually working on it, and I would say it is important for all post players,” Nagel said. “It has to be a focus. We want her to score 60 to 65 percent of her shots around the basket.”
Basketball has been part of Harry’s life for as long as she can remember. Her mom is a coach, and she has three siblings that play basketball. She even has a picture of herself with a basketball behind her head when she was just 1 1/2. Now, Harry is settling into her third year on the Bruins’ varsity squad. Playing high school basketball is a dream come true according to Harry.
“When I was in grade school, I just wanted to play high school basketball,” she said. “When junior high came along, and I was invited to play up, I realized that I was good enough to play in high school. Practice started, and I realized that I could probably make varsity. It was at that point that I realized how far I had come along.”
Harry has always been one of the taller kids. She was one of the tallest in grade school, she remembers. Her classmates began to catch up with her in grade school, but that did not last long. In each year of high school, she has grown another inch. With her focus on basketball, she has come to embrace her height.
“Basketball has become such a fall back for me,” Harry said. “When I was younger, I was always the tall kid in school. I would slouch in my chair and try to kind of hide at times. Now that it has become obvious that my height is helping me, I am very thankful.”
Harry admits, however, that being tall does have some drawbacks.
“Well it is definitely hard to find clothes, but they are coming out with new stuff all the time,” she said. “But it is good on and off the court, because I can see over people in the hallways and things like that.”
Although it only happens occasionally, Harry has matched up against girls taller than her. This year, she is joined by sophomore teammate Anya Trass, who is also 6-3.
“I know it helps me and it helps her. It gives us a game-like feel for the tougher teams that we will be playing this year,” Harry said.
With all of the improvements she has made to her own game, Harry has not forgotten about her teammates. This year, she has embraced a leadership role and is looking to make her teammates better.
“I think a leadership quality comes with being on the team for three years,” Harry said. “This year, I am trying to guide the freshmen and sophomores into developing their game.”