Flight owe a lot to Harrison's siblings

Originally Published: June 9, 2009
By Mindi Rice | HoopGurlz

As the 10th of 12 children, Isabelle Harrison was born into her own basketball team.

From Idette to Dorie, the entire brood of Harrison children have known sports their whole lives, playing with basketballs, footballs and the like since before they could walk. The family's large Nashville, Tenn., home rarely went a day without some sort of game between any number of the seven girls and five boys.

"That's how I basically got into basketball," Isabelle said. "Of course, if you have a big brother or sister, you always want to do what they do, so we always played against each other. Either basketball or just going outside and making up a sport to pass the time."

[+] EnlargeIsabelle Harrison
Mark LewisIsabelle Harrison can drop 20 points on any given night.

The daughter of former NFL defensive lineman Dennis Harrison, who played in Super Bowl XV for the Philadelphia Eagles, and his wife, Ida, "Izzy" Harrison, will likely be the fifth of the children to play a sport in college.

Older brothers D.J. and David -- who both currently play overseas -- were her basketball role models, while sisters Della, a sophomore on the Tennessee-Chattanooga softball team, and Dee Dee, a freshman with the Tennessee volleyball program, are the athletes among her older sisters.

"When they left to go to practice, I was just in the house bored," Isabelle said. "So I figured I might as well come, learn a few shots or moves or two. So I just did what they did."

Watching her brothers worked for Isabelle, who Tennessee Flight coach Tom Insell raves about. The 6-foot-4, 2011 prospect said she picked up many moves from David, who spent time on the Pacers' roster and currently plays in Beijing, and D.J., who is playing in Switzerland.

"I've coached Izzy's sister, but Izzy's just phenomenal," Insell said. "By the end of the summer, she'll be on my top team. She can play. Her high-school team won the state tournament. Izzy, in my opinion, was the MVP."

It was Isabelle and her Hillsboro High team that knocked off highly-ranked Memphis Central in Tennesee's 3A championship game, earning the first trophy for a Metro Nashville school since 1980 and the first for Hillsboro. She had 16 points in the title game after scoring 20-plus per game on the way to the championship.

From the excitement of the state title to playing with the Flight's sophomore team, and likely working up to the program's top team by the end of the summer, Isabelle will be getting plenty of attention, something that has already started with an increase in the mail with her name on it.

"I always used to be mad because I never got any mail and Dee Dee got all of it," she said. "Now, they keep on coming in and coming in."

During the offseason Harrison keeps busy, working on her game and also playing volleyball. She uses her tall, athletic frame to her -- and her team's -- advantage, becoming a force at the net and adding diversity to her athletic life.

"I don't like the uniforms," Harrison said. "But I like to hit and block. It helps me with my vertical for blocking shots in basketball."

It definitely translates back to the court, where Isabelle is more comfortable in the baggy, knee-length shorts. She powers through games with toughness and an understanding of the sport and her opponents. She has a knack for grabbing a rebound or blocking a shot and shows no fear against larger or stronger opponents. Something she first learned from one of the many siblings, who played before her and against her.

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Mindi Rice is a staff writer for ESPN HoopGurlz. She previously was an award-winning sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and a barista at Starbucks, and grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She can be reached at mindi@hoopgurlz.com.