Harknett Combines Local Roots And Brazilian Flair

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Freshman Gretchen Harknett

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Freshman Gretchen Harknett
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Aug 30, 2013

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. -- While senior Rafaelle Souza is the team's lone Brazilian native, she is not the only Rebel to show a Brazilian flair on the soccer pitch. Enter freshman starting right back Gretchen Harknett, a native of Memphis, Tenn., by way of Escola Americana de Campinas in Campinas, Brazil.

She played soccer at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis for her first three years of high school and also served as team captain of her club soccer team, the Collierville Lady Lobos, alongside future Ole Miss teammates Melissa Capocaccia, Addie Forbus and Mackenze Parma.

Her senior year, Harknett's father got a job promotion, so she and her whole family moved to Brazil, where she also played soccer and attended an American school.

"I really enjoyed the experience," Harknett said. "It was a journey for sure, and there were a lot of obstacles, like learning a learning a new language and meeting new friends. It was senior year for me, so I had to leave my club team, my school and my hometown, and I was missing graduation and all the senior experiences.

"But overall, I enjoyed the experience. I got to join a Brazilian club team, and that helped me expand on my soccer skills, and I made a bunch of new friends."

On the field, she led the Sao Paulo High League in scoring that season and helped lead her team to the league championship. It was, however, a very different brand of soccer than she was used to playing.

"The way the Brazilians play is a lot different from the way Americans play," Harknett said. "They're very fast paced, and their foot skills are incredible. It's always go forward and go to goal. It was a cool experience because I got to play different positions. I got to play up top some, and I led the Sao Paulo high school league in goals. I got to play a whole different style of soccer."

That experience, Ole Miss head coach Matt Mott said, helped her technique. And some of the things Harknett can do with the ball reminds him of the senior, Souza.

"If you look at Rafa, she is one of the most technical players in the country," Mott said. "And you can see that in Gretchen. The little flicks and the little things she does with both feet clearly is an influence from the Brazilian style of play.

"Her ability with the ball, to beat players with the ball, and be tricky with the ball. That's the Brazilian influence. They like to beat players. Rafa will sometimes beat a player a couple of times before she gets past them. And Gretchen has a lot of the same qualities that she learned in her year in Brazil."

Her work rate and play-making ability, were what stood out to Mott when watching Harknett in high school and club competition.

A natural center midfielder, a position Mott said he expects she will eventually play, Harknett started her first two college games at right back, where her skill set also translates well.

"She's able to strike the ball really well with both her right and left foot," Mott said. "She's strong. She's good in the air. She tackles. Gretchen can also connect passes and score from distance. It's all of the things you want in a right back, but it's also things you want in a midfielder."

Harknett's father remains in Brazil, but he will be able to make some of her games this season, which will make those games extra special for her.

"It's definitely hard because I want to him to be at my games, and I would rather have him in America, of course," Harknett said. "But he needs to be there. He comes back every month to see the family, and will come to some games. We'll also take trips to Brazil. I'm looking forward to that."

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Sneak Peak

      Monday, August 18, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football 2014: Episode 1 Sneak Peak from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Wallace: 'It's My Offense'

      Monday, August 18, 2014 - Football

      The dean of Southeastern Conferences quarterbacks and the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns, senior Bo Wallace is as healthy and confident as ever, and he's also assumed a more vocal leadership role on the... read more

    • VIDEO: We Are Ole Miss

      Saturday, August 16, 2014 - Athletics

      We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.In case you missed it, "Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss" from earlier this year: Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Football: Fins Up (Part 2)

      Saturday, August 16, 2014 - Football

      In case you missed it, Fins Up (Part 1) from last year:... read more

    • Rebels Battle Injuries on Defense

      Friday, August 15, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze confirmed that junior cornerback Carlos Davis suffered a torn ACL and will likely have surgery Monday. Davis joins sophomore cornerback Tee Shepard and junior safety Chief Brown on the list of players expected to miss... read more

    • Recapping the SEC Network Launch

      Friday, August 15, 2014 - Athletics

      The launch of the SEC Network shows the growth and vision of the 14 schools in the conference. #OleMiss-- Coach Alex (@apsimms2) August 15, 2014 That was fun! And the @SECNetwork is only getting started. #SECStoried finished strong. Great... read more

    • Ole Miss and the SEC Network Launch

      Thursday, August 14, 2014 - Athletics

      Tonight is the night!! #SECNetworkLaunch pic.twitter.com/73UYs8B0Hg-- SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 14, 2014 Historic day for SEC & #OleMiss as we celebrate the launch of the @SECNetwork at 5pm CST! Congrats to everyone who made it happen!-- Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) August... read more

    • Luke Breaks Down the Offensive Line

      Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - Football

      The center and right tackle position battles have been two of the biggest story lines of fall camp, but as the Rebels prepped for their second preseason scrimmage Wednesday night, they are closer to solidifying the depth chart along the... read more

    • Attitude, Effort are Front and Center in Process

      Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - Volleyball

      "Buy-in" is a common term thrown around by coaches. How will first-year Ole Miss head volleyball coach Steven McRoberts measure buy-in, as the team continues its preseason work for the upcoming season? Attitude and effort. "If we bring those two... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Soccer Day One

      Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - Soccer

      THE SEASON: Soccer - Day One from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Kennedy Recaps Trip, Talks New-Look Roster

      Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - Men's Basketball

      The Ole Miss men's basketball team wrapped up its Bahamian exhibition tour with a perfect 2-0 record. Head coach Andy Kennedy recapped the trip, talked about the chemistry, depth and experience of a new-look roster heading into the fall. The... read more

    • Looking at CB, OL, WR and RB Depth

      Monday, August 11, 2014 - Football

      Sophomore defensive end Fadol Brown and sophomore cornerback Kailo Moore returned from their respective injuries, while sophomore Tee Shepard remains out with a toe injury. The results from Shepard's MRI performed on Saturday are being sent to Birmingham, head coach... read more

    • Ole Miss Programming on SEC Network

      Monday, August 11, 2014 - Football

      The SEC Network will debut on Thursday, August 14 with a three-hour SEC Now that will visit every SEC school and the 21 sports within the SEC. The first two weeks of the network will also feature customized programming to... read more

    • The Week That Was: Ole Miss Football

      Sunday, August 10, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss continues its preparations for the the 2014 season with the second full week of fall camp starting Monday. Here's a look back at the first full week of fall camp with some observations and takeaways, as well as... read more

    • Center, Right Tackle Position Battles to Watch

      Thursday, August 7, 2014 - Football

      An extended portion of the team drills were open to the media. Gameplay-wise, the highlight of the period was a pair of deep throws from senior quarterback Bo Wallace, one to sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and another to junior... read more