Outgoing, talkative and competitive are the three words that junior Lady Vols volleyball player DeeDee Harrison used to best describe herself. After getting to know the 6-foot-3 middle blocker better, one would understand why she attributed those characteristics to herself.
Growing up in Nashville, Harrison was one of 11 siblings and the daughter of NFL Pro Bowler and Vanderbilt alumnus Dennis Harrison, who played 10 seasons in the league for four different teams. Not to mention, her brother David played four seasons in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers.
“Growing up in a family as big as mine you can’t have a small voice,” Harrison said. “With our family greatly involved in sports it made the atmosphere of everything you do competitive.”
Harrison was the definition of competitive during her time at Hillsboro High School. She lettered all four years in volleyball, basketball and softball. Her leadership skills were also noticed, as she was a captain for all three sports from her junior year on.
“Basketball was actually my first passion,” Harrison said. “It wasn’t until my junior year that I really picked up volleyball. What I like about volleyball is that it is really intense. Every ball means something during the game.”
By the time Harrison finished her volleyball career at Hillsboro in 2007, she ranked 63rd on the PrepVolleyball.com Senior Aces list and was receiving major interest from several colleges. After considering her options, she finalized her decision to play college volleyball at UT, despite her family’s deep roots with Vanderbilt.
“When I visited Tennessee for the first time, I enjoyed the way everyone treated me, and it definitely felt like a home away from home,” she said. “I have had no regrets with the decision I made to come play here for coach (Rob) Patrick.”
After redshirting her first year on campus and seeing limited playing time as a freshman, Harrison enjoyed a very successful sophomore campaign last year. In helping lead the team to a 25-7 record, the program’s best mark since 2004, Robinson finished third on the team in kills with 240 (2.11/set) and second with 102 blocks (0.89/set).
Harrison has continued to be a huge asset to the team, which swept through the competition last weekend in the Comcast Lady Vol Classic to open up the 2011 season. In UT’s three wins she has 21 kills to go along with seven blocks.
“DeeDee is a huge physical presence for us on the court and opens up room for our hitters on the outside,” Patrick said. “She is an emotional player and can really pump up the team in the huddle or by one of her thunderous kills.”
While her physical talents are not to be taken lightly, there is something that has impressed her coach just as much over the past few years.
“She is much more consistent in all her emotions now and has really taken care of business off and on the court,” Patrick said. “She has done a fantastic job this year of being a mother-like figure for our team. All the girls look up to her and respect her a lot and to be the captain on the team says a lot about her.”
Harrison’s hard work off the court has paid off in huge dividends, as the sports management major has been on the SEC Academic Honor Roll for the past two years.
“She has put in time and uses the resources that the Thornton Athletic Center provides for athletes to her full advantage,” Patrick said.
While she displays the leadership one would expect out of a senior player, Harrison still has two more years left to play volleyball at UT, and she wants to win an SEC Championship both years.
“After my career here is done I want to be remembered as a strong, competitive person who did whatever it takes to make a difference,” Harrison said.
As far as future plans, she wants to one day be in administration in a professional franchise.