Like her performance on the soccer field, Corinne Harris has kept her summer fast-paced. The senior forward began the summertime as an intern on the set of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption before moving across the country to work at Adidas for five weeks, with only a week in between to visit her family in Chicago.
But even though Harris had two internships during the summer, her role as captain for the Michigan women’s soccer team has remained constant. After the Wolverines’ 2014 campaign came to a lackluster conclusion — winning only one of their last six games — Harris and three other captains are emphasizing the role of consistency heading into the 2015 season.
“The big thing for us is controlling what we can control,” Harris said. “When we weren’t picked for the NCAA Tournament, we were like ‘What are ways that we could have controlled our fate?’ … Everyone can make sure that they’re coming in fit and ready to play, so that if we’re in a double overtime game, people are still fresh and we can really make that difference and get a win.”
Luckily for Harris, working for two companies that revolve entirely around sports has allowed her to stay physically active despite a demanding summer schedule. During her time at Adidas, the interns played 7-on-7 scrimmage matches two to three times a week at a soccer field near the office, allowing her to not only stay fit, but also develop her skills against a tougher opponent.
“I got to play with boys, so that was very challenging, but also very helpful for me,” Harris said. “It was really helpful with always having to be sharp with the speed of play, because they were all about ten times faster than me.
“I didn’t really have time to think too much. You really just have to be one step ahead, which is something that is obviously really helpful to have … Hopefully I’ll see it pay off soon.”
With Harris honing her skills over the summer, it could help the Wolverines rid the bitter taste of last year’s roller-coaster season. Following the first-round loss in the 2014 Big Ten Tournament that ended Michigan’s season, the team voted defender Christina Ordonez, goalkeeper Maddie Clarfield and Harris to spend their senior year as captains — replacing Jen Pace and Chloe Sosenko.
From then on, Harris said the team rebounded positively, allowing the Wolverines to focus on laying this year’s foundation built around four fundamentals: leadership, fitness, work rate and accountability.
The captains are trying to prove that a hard and consistent work ethic both on the field and in the gym means anyone can emerge from the woodwork to score the game-winning goal, even the youngest and most inexperienced of the team. It’s this philosophy that head coach Greg Ryan, now in his eighth season at Michigan, has always built the team around during his tenure.
Harris is an example of how holding that attitude can pay off, when last season, she started all 20 games, compared to just six in the 2013 season, and transformed from a player Ryan had previously doubted to one he considered his best.
“(Something that we kinda emphasized to everyone) is that we want each person to be a leader in their own way,” Harris said. “Even freshmen coming in, everyone has so much to bring, everyone can make an impact … We want to have a team that’s full of fight and will battle every single minute of every game.”
Returning to help wage that battle is senior midfielder Christina Murillo, who spent the last year training with Mexico’s National Team in preparation for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in June. She was not only welcomed back to the team this season, but was also named the fourth captain last week.
The addition of Murillo was long planned, given the valuable insight she has gained at the international level. For Michigan, it could pay huge dividends as the Wolverines return the core of their midfield.
With each captain representing one of the four positions, the leadership is more well-rounded in comparison to last year, and each player embodies a different leadership trait: Murillo’s expertise makes her versatile at any position in the field; Ordonez and Harris’ verbal leadership could lead a more organized effort; and Clarfield, according to Ryan, feels like another assistant coach with her understanding of team dynamics, making her a reliable strategist.
But for Michigan to start on a higher note than it left off at, every practice needs to be treated like a high-stakes game, one with little margin for error, and the Wolverines will need only to adjust the elements they can manage.
“We’re just trying to set little standards (like working hard),” Harris said. “So that when it comes down to it, we know that we’re the most prepared team, and we can really go out there and control as much as we can to get the right outcome.”