No matter where a player may go there’s no better feeling than coming home.
For former Clemson men’s soccer star Wolde Harris, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. Today, Harris will be even more jubilant as he will receive his degree from Clemson, after some hard work and determination.
Harris last played soccer at Clemson in 1995, some 17 years ago. Since that time he has played professionally in the MLS, and started a business of running soccer camps in his native country of Jamaica. But the idea of finishing his degree has always been on his mind since he made a promise to his parents when he turned professional.
For the last two years, he has served as an assistant coach of the Clemson Men’s Soccer team under Head Coach Mike Noonan and has gone to school, finishing up where he left off a few years ago. His degree will be a B.S. in management.
Harris didn’t mind “coming home” it was just a matter of finding the time. Harris doesn’t hesitate in stating how much he loves Clemson, and has many fond memories of his college days.
“What I remember about Clemson first and foremost is everyone is kind and everyone accepted me without conditions,” said Harris. “At the time the guys in the program were very close and we did everything together. The biggest thing about being a good team, and this is true no matter where you go, is for the team to do a lot together.
“They accepted me and made me feel very comfortable at the start. It felt like a family. We used to eat dinner together and hang out with each other. Coach I.M. Ibrahim did a great job of instilling teamwork and camaraderie. My teammates made me feel very comfortable and express my self and the love for soccer. Each player sacrificed his personal goals and worked hard for the good of the team. It was a wonderful experience at Clemson and we had a lot of fun.”
Harris, a Kingston, Jamaica native, made the most of his Clemson experience as he finished his career as one of the best players ever at Tigertown.
Harris played soccer for Clemson from 1993-1995 after spending his freshman season at the University of Connecticut. In only three years at Clemson, he became the Tigers all-time career goal scorer with 76, second on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s career list.
In 1995 he was a finalist for the Hermann Award and was named All-American that season. He was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection that included first- team honors in 1995.
Harris led the nation in goal scoring with 26 goals in 1994 and was second in the nation behind teammate Jimmy Glenn (32) with 29. He was tied for fifth for most goals scored nationally in 1995 with 21. Harris also is second on the school’s career list for most points with 170. He is the Tigers’ all-time leader for most game-winning goals with 21. His eight career hat tricks are tied for first on the Clemson career list. He is only the second player in Clemson and ACC history to score 20 or more goals for three consecutive seasons. He was also named a member of the ACC’s 50th Anniversary team.
Harris also liked the environment at Clemson and the support shown to the soccer program.
“The facilities and the support at Clemson are unbelievable,” said Harris. “As a player from Jamaica, this helped me relax and be comfortable. There’s no place like Historic Riggs Field. It would be packed and we have some awesome fans supporting us. There would be fans and supporters from others sports coming to watch us play. It was definitely a family feeling. And, as they say there is nothing like the Clemson family.”
Harris played professionally in the MLS. He joined MLS for the first time in 1997, after spending 1996 with the Colorado Foxes, leading the A-League in goals with 17. Harris played three seasons with the Colorado Rapids, scoring 13 goals in 1998. In 2000, he was traded to the New England Revolution for draft picks. Wolde’s best season with the Revs was his first, when he scored 15 goals. Harris would spend three and a half seasons in New England, before a trade to the Kansas City Wizards midway through 2003. He spent 2004 with Swedish club Bodens BK before coming back to MLS and Colorado in 2005. In eight years in MLS league play, Harris scored 51 goals and added 31 assists. He signed for Salvadoran outfit Club Deportivo FAS in August 2006.
Harris has also played for the Jamaican national team during his career. He played his last international in 2002 against Guadeloupe, earning over 28 caps.
After playing professionally, Harris wants to give back. In the past two summers, he has worked at Clemson Head Coach Mike Noonan’s Soccer Camp. He is also back on campus finishing his degree.
In Jamaica, Wolde Harris was involved in youth football in the United States and Jamaica. In December 2009, he launched a company called Jamaica Grassroots football company with his father and brothers, teaching and coaching youth about the game of soccer.
“I feel the Clemson soccer program has a bright future with Coach Noonan. He knows of the great tradition that Clemson has and what is expected of him. I know that it’s on the top of his list to get the Tigers back to these realms of success.
“I enjoyed working with Coach Noonan’s program when I was finishing my degree. I don’t start something and not finish it. I remember when I got drafted in the pros my Dad said you’re going back and get your degree. This was the most opportune time to do this. Clemson is my home away from home, and it is where I met a lot of good people. It’s always great to come home to Clemson and be part of the Clemson family.”
Today he will become an alumnus.
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