Injuries that could have been a career-ender couldn’t keep Langley’s Joel Harrison off the soccer field. Currently one of three team captains for the University of Michigan men’s soccer team, Harrison spent 22 months recovering. (U-M Photography/special to Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: How a Langley soccer player overcame serious injury to play for the University of Michigan

Joel Harrison calls his recovery a ‘a complete team effort’

Injuries that could have been a career-ender couldn’t keep Langley’s Joel Harrison off the soccer field.

Harrison, currently one of three team captains for the University of Michigan men’s soccer team, spent 22 months wondering if he would ever play again, following a season-ending injury at a 2016 recruiting showcase in Florida with the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy that sent him off the field in an ambulance.

He suffered a double sports hernia during the first five minutes of the game, before the coaches from Michigan could see him play.

“Just as the coaches were arriving to watch our game I was being carried off the field,” Harrison recalled, describing it as a “major blow.”

Harrison had demonstrated unmistakable talent playing for the Whitecaps FC residency program in grade 11 and grade 12.

READ ALSO: Harrison turning heads

READ ALSO: Langley athlete honoured to remember ancestry through award

He was so committed, he transferred from Walnut Grove Secondary to Burnaby Central so that his school work would fit in the team training schedule.

Over those two years, he was able to work his way up in the club, eventually making his professional debut with the Whitecaps FC 2 during the summer of 2016.

That record, as it turned out, did not go unnoticed by the Michigan coaches.

“Almost every college wanted to wait until I was healthy again so they could see me play in person before making any offers,” Harrison recalled.

“All except for Michigan, who were willing to take a risk and offer me a spot on their roster without seeing me play.”

For a long 22 months, it “seemed like it was an unsuccessful gamble,” Harrison recalled., as he underwent countless hours of physiotherapy and treatments that included a bilateral surgery in January of 2018.

”There were some extremely difficult times where I questioned whether I would ever kick a soccer ball again, or even be able to run,” Harrison related.

But finally, on October 3, 2018, he made his college soccer debut as a substitute in a 2-1 win by the Wolverines over Oakland University.

It wasn’t until he played a full 110 minutes, including overtime, against Notre Dame, that he felt like he’d made a comeback.

“It was the first time I genuinely felt like the player I was prior to my injury,” he said.

In 2019, his junior year, he got an entire season under his belt.

And what a season; after being named one of the team captains in 2019, the team set a program record for shutouts and goals-against average, and reached the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year.

They played in the Big-10 Conference finals and went to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament.

Harrison was also named an Academic All-American while studying computer science engineering at Michigan.

“Looking back at what has been an unpredictable 3 years at Michigan, the patience and trust of my family, coaching staff, and teammates is what I value the most,” Harrison declared.

“Nobody ever doubted my return, and in fact for 22 months they assured me of the immediate impact I would have on the team. Starting from the day I went down injured in Florida to the place I am now, it has been a complete team effort and I do not know where I would be without them.”

Harrison was the third Wolverine in the 20-year history of the program to receive Academic All-America honors which requires student-athletes to have a minimum 3.3 grade-point average.

A University of Michigan report noted Harrison is one of 12 engineers from various Midwestern universities and across different engineering disciplines who are working on building a mechanical arm for a high school principal who is unable to afford one.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Langleysoccer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Joel Harrison, seen here on the University of Michigan men’s soccer team playing against Wisconsin at the U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, came back from serious injuries that took 22 months for him to recover (U-M Photography/special to Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Thunderbird Show Park cancels Canadian Premier and Odlum Brown BC Open

First cancellation in 47-year history of Langley

VIDEO: Feeding front-line medical responders at Langley Memorial Hospital

When a volleyball championship was cancelled, the teams decided to repurpose the registration fees

VIDEO: Sirens show support for Langley Memorial Hospital staff

Friday drive-past the latest in a province-wide campaign to boost morale at B.C. medical facilities

Smiling 98-year-old inspires new ways to connect at Langley hospital

Foundation staff liaise between patients and loved-ones who can’t visit due to restrictions

VIDEO: Langley schools transition students to at-home learning

During the next two weeks a new model will be rolled out to parents, pupils of kids in public school

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read