MORE: Jack Harrison Q&A
When Jack Harrison was handed this year’s Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year trophy, his Berkshire School (Sheffield, Mass.) teammates seemed more excited than he did. But moments after former Major League Soccer MVP Taylor Twellman delivered the surprise news along with the hardware, the senior midfielder caught on.
“I’m was shocked and I’m a little overwhelmed,” said Harrison, 18, a Wake Forest signee. “I’m very familiar with who’s won this before me. I’ve looked up the names online and it’s an incredible honor. I’m so appreciative and none of this would have happened without my teammates, my mom, my coach and this school.”
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior midfielder led the Bears to a 19-2-1 record and a third straight New England Prep School Athletic Council Class A championship this past season. Harrison scored 16 goals and passed for 27 assists, including seven game-winning tallies. He was one of only two players in the country to be selected as an All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for both high school and club soccer.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time,” said Twellman, 35, a two-time Gatorade Missouri Player of the Year as a prep and now an ESPN analyst. “This is what memories are made of. It’s not the goals and the trophies. It’s getting surprised with this honor with all your boys around you and Gatorade’s in the house. When it’s all said and done, you remember stuff like this. And when I saw the smiles on his teammates’ faces, I knew the trophy went to the right guy.”
Harrison, 18, has maintained a B average in the classroom. An elected senior leader, he serves as a school tour guide and has also volunteered locally as a youth soccer coach. A two-time New England champion as a three-year varsity squash standout, Harrison also rides for the Bears’ varsity mountain-biking team and owns the school’s course record. He has donated his time further as a participant in multiple community-service initiatives as part of the Berkshire Helping Hands organization.
“Jack has great vision and the ability direct a game, or even take over a game from his midfield role,” says Sheldon Shealer, High School Senior Editor for TopDrawerSoccer.com. “His technical skills are exceptional and he plays well with both feet. He has a knack for delivering key passes, tackles and shots, and he’s proven to be a winner. He is a complete player who certainly has the attributes to be a professional someday.”
Harrison concluded his prep soccer career with 44 goals and 65 assists as the program went 69-8-3 in his tenure and finished as the nation’s No. 1-ranked prep school team three times. Seven of his assists as a senior also came on game-winning goals. A Best XI honoree at the High School All-American Game, he was the 2014 Boston Globe All-Scholastic Prep School Offensive Player of the Year and is rated the nation’s No. 30 recruit in the Class of 2015 by College Soccer News.
A two-time NSCAA All-American, Harrison assisted on the game-winning goal at the 2014 United States Youth Soccer Association National Championships final, earning the tournament’s Golden Ball, awarded to the player with the greatest competitive impact. His Manhattan Soccer Club team earned Top Drawer Soccer’s No. 1 ranking in 2014.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Harrison is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
A native of Darwen, England, and a product of the Manchester United Youth Academy, Harrison becomes only the second Massachusetts athlete to win Gatorade national honors in any sport, joining retired MLS defender Pat Phelan (Wilbraham & Monson), who won in 2003-04 before leading Wake Forest to a NCAA championship in 2007.
California, with 63, has produced the most Gatorade national winners across the program’s 12 sports, followed by Texas (29), Florida (21), Illinois (15) and Indiana (13).