NaQuari Harris had quite the high school basketball playing career.
She wrapped her days at Leavenworth High School as a member of back-to-back Class 5A state basketball champions and ultimately graduated to Coffeyville Community College to play ball there.
“My early college days were great,” Harris said. “In the beginning, I was a social butterfly, made friends easily and I found my true self. There were a lot of lows. I lost my (high school) friends I thought I had coming into college. Another was I had to learn to be on my own and make the right decisions in order to benefit me in the proper way to succeed.
“Some of my high school highlights would include mentoring, socializing and having one of the best group of girls that had my back on and off the court.”
The junior college game, especially in Kansas, can be brutal, as it has some of the best competition anywhere in basketball.
“I expected it to be difficult but not to the point I couldn’t make it or that I would give up,” Harris said. “I was expecting even higher expectations from the already high ones I had received in high school.
“I was truly seeing for myself that even though you put in the extra work, if a coach had their mind made up, there was nothing you could do about it. The workouts and study requirements were easier than I had thought because I had already been prepared in high school. Of course, not all the workouts were ordinary so some that I did encounter were challenges for me, but I overcame them with the help of my teammates.”
Harris completed her two-year career at Coffeyville, playing in 49 games and averaging 1.2 ppg and 1.5 rpg while starting in four contests.
“The level of play at my college was very competitive, more competitive than I had seen in AAU and team camps I had previously encountered before,” Harris said. “The KJCCA Jayhawk Conference was voted most competitive for the last five years in the college coach’s poll.”
Harris learned the lessons that worked as a youngster and about the ones she never got to absorb as her college years went one.
“It is very key for high school students to understand certain values of the next level even if they choose not to play a sport,” Harris said. “The values I believe in the most are believing/trusting in God, honesty both toward others as well as within yourself, and last but not least, willpower. These three values were important to me because those values help me grow into the young woman I am today.”
Harris will now continue her education at the University of Kansas and will plan on earning a degree in social welfare after earning her two-year associate’s degree in liberal arts at Coffeyville.
She hopes to one day pursue a master’s degree in guidance psychology in pursuit of a career as guidance counselor for young students.
“I remember the hardest working girls I have seen put aside our differences for the common goal,” Harris said. “We had our ups and downs, but we always made it work. I loved every minute being with this wonderful group of girls because they helped me through all the tough times on and off the court. I appreciate the coaching staff as well for putting the time and effort in to help us grow as individuals both on and off the court.
“Even though I have chosen to not continue with my career in basketball I am thankful for my time at Leavenworth High School. To all my teachers and high school authorities who believed in me and pushed me past my boundaries, thank you.”