Athlete to Watch: Emma Harbour

Emily Nilsson

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    Among the many talented athletes at Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS), Senior Emma Harbour stands out as one of the best. She is a star, both on and off the field, making an impact on our school and community.

    Harbour first began playing soccer at age four, after kicking a soccer ball around with her dad. She loved it, and soon began playing competitively, for both club and school teams.

    In the spring of her 8th grade year, Harbour tore her left ACL. Six months later, she re-tore the same ACL, during a friendly game of kickball. These tears impacted Harbour greatly due to the large mental strain on her, and questions of whether or not she should continue playing the sport she loved. She was torn because the tears kept happening and it was unclear if she should continue putting herself in the position to get hurt.

    Once she was able to play soccer again, she played for a team in Salt Lake City, Utah. This team was part of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) and it was a higher level of play than she had ever seen before. She was ecstatic to join the team, because she was recommended by a former coach and got to play a higher level of soccer than was offered locally. The intensive travel revealed Harbour’s dedication to the sport: Harbour and her dad would drive down to Salt Lake City before lunch on a Thursday, and when they got there, Harbour says, “I’d play that night for 3 hours because I would play with the older team first and then play with the younger team.”

    They would then drive back that night and be back by Friday morning.

    However, injury stuck again and, “I was playing with them at U of U [University of Utah] … and it was a scrimmage- very friendly- and I tore my right one [ACL],” says Harbour.

    The second two ACL tears included meniscus tears, and, last spring, Harbour had a scope done and found that she had re-torn her left meniscus, which required another surgery to have it removed. After each surgery, Harbour worked hard to recover. She would do exercises and then practice for the upcoming sports test, which is a physical test evaluating the abilities of the injured area, performed by a doctor. This test determines whether the athlete is fit to return to their sport. Harbour’s training would include running roughly 3 ½ miles, sprints, and then practicing the entire test, building her strength and improving her skills. Harbour says, “That was all I did, all the time.”

    The transition back into soccer was the hardest after the first tear in 8th grade. It was more than just physical, as she had to regain her courage, hoping to be fearless when getting back into the game. Her entire mindset had to be shifted, and she had to remember why she loved the game and how it felt to play.

    Harbour was used to being ahead of everyone her age, but when she returned, her advantage was not nearly as pronounced. However, everyone around Harbour knew she was incredible, despite the three year break from soccer.

    “She’s still so good,” says younger sister and current teammate Zoe Harbour. Although this is their first actual season playing together, Harbour says, “She’s already contributed a lot this season.”

    Harbour contributes to the team in many ways, including being a leader on the field. Her leadership shines because she absolutely loves the game. This love for the game was also incredibly helpful during the recovery process, as it reminded her of the goal she was working towards.

    Head Girls Soccer Coach Joe Calabrese noted, “Everyone on the team loves playing soccer, but she’s at a different level.”

    Her passion for the game also helps her make others on the field better. Her positivity and enthusiasm serve as a role model for other players.  

    Harbour is “a guide for some of the younger girls and even the girls her age,” says Calabrese.

    She never gives up and always puts her full effort into everything she’s doing. Her knowledge of the game and wonderful communication on the field also set her apart from her teammates.

    According to Calabrese, Harbour is an incredible teammate who, “Makes others around her better, on the field and off the field.”

    This unique attribute will carry Harbour far in life, especially if she decides to pursue coaching as a career, which she aspires to do. Soccer has always been a part of Harbour’s life, and she hopes to keep it that way.

    Harbour’s ultimate love and passion for soccer make her an incredible player, and her perseverance is unmatched: Despite 3 separate ACL tears and several meniscus tears, Harbour always gets back in the game.

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