Monique Harris ended her career at Iowa State this past weekend after a successful four year career with the Cyclones volleyball program. After Senior Night passed at the end of last month it really started to sink in that this really is the final volleyball season for the Clinton High School graduate.
“It was just overwhelming. It was just a lot of fun, I had a lot of fun,” Harris said about Iowa State’s Senior Night, which happened on Nov. 25. “I had some family from Pennsylvania come out so that was really exciting.”
Harris, a four year varsity letter winner under Clinton Coach Mark Massey, enrolled at Iowa State in 2014 and joined the Cyclones as a walk-on. It didn’t take long for the decision to play out.
“It was a slower process. I had a feeling that I wanted to stay somewhat close to home,” Harris said. “I had seen Iowa State play my freshman year of high school. I had a cousin who played volleyball at University of Texas so I went to Ames to see them play Iowa State. I got to see the atmosphere at Hilton Coliseum and seeing the way the team operated.
“Being able to play for a coach who had won a national championship was something I was really interested in. I just started emailing back and forth and they decided they would take me as a walk on and I took the opportunity and went for it.”
She started playing immediately, starting as a defensive specialist and moving to setter her freshman year.
“I knew I was capable of and had the ability to play at a Division I school so I thought I would end up playing, but I didn’t think I was playing as soon as I was. That was kind of a shock for me,” Harris said. “I didn’t see it going as well as it did but I had high expectations for myself and saw myself playing. It definitely was amazing to start playing my freshman year and it worked towards money sooner than expected, getting a full ride scholarship my sophomore year so that was exciting.”
Harris continued to prove that she was worth that scholarship, ranking fifth in the Big 12 her sophomore year in digs and putting up the team’s third high dig count. As a junior she finished with 185 digs and 669 assists on the season. She’s been on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll twice and this past summer was invited to take part in USA Volleyball’s U.S. Collegiate National Team-Minneapolis program.
“It was really cool to play with other elite players from throughout the country and people who are at the same level that you are,” Harris said. The program included 36 athletes, three from Iowa State. ‘To play with girls with collegiate experiences that are different than yours but also play at that high level and with competition outside of your school was really fun.”
This year #8 received her senior recognition at Hilton Coliseum, surrounded by family and friends. Volleyball came to an end this weekend when the Cyclones--ranked 22nd--fell to the Wisconsin Badgers in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Volleyball Championship in Ames.
With all the success she’s seen with the Cyclones, she says she’s always had support. Its been a long road to get to the point she finished at.
“I’ve always had support from my family from afar. Clinton, there have been a few people who have really shown their support and come out and watched me play so that’s been really nice to have throughout my career,” Harris said. “It’s just hard to believe that for as long as I have been playing and for as much hard work as I have put in that it’s finally coming to an end. I’m just trying to take it day by day and enjoy my last few days and last few weeks that I have left. I’m trying to enjoy my teammates and be around them and just be thankful that I was able to do this and be thankful that I was able to play for four years at a high level and at a really good university.”
The finance major isn’t quite sure where the road will lead her after graduation or if volleyball will be involved.
“I have thought about being a graduate assistant and helping with the volleyball program somewhere, that’s an option. I’ve thought about just letting it go completely,” Harris said. “I don’t really know for sure. It’s going to kind of be a spring semester decision where I decided what to do and where to go from there.”
But she’s glad she made the decision to join the Cyclones, and knows she has grown because of it.
“It’s definitely been kind of like a lifeline. I don’t know what I would be doing with my life right now if I didn’t have the sport,” Harris said. “I’ve played it for so long that’s all I know. I’ve built so many relationships through the sports I don’t know where many of my friendships would be because most of them I have met through the sports of volleyball.
“Volleyball has shaped me into the person I am. I’m an only child so have to deal with different personalities day in and day out is something I have never had to deal with but having volleyball and having teammates has helped me grow as an individual.”