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
    • UPDATED: Hugh Freeze's Day At ESPN Car Wash

      Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - Football

      UPDATE: Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.Here are more of Coach Freeze's interviews in Bristol. Scroll down to the earlier post to hear him on Ivan Maisel's podcast. Listen: Freeze on the Paul Finebaum Show Listen: Freeze on the Freddie Coleman Show... read more

    • Freeze Visits ESPN Headquarters Monday

      Sunday, July 20, 2014 - Football

      All 14 Southeastern Conference football coaches will travel to ESPN's annual mid-summer football coaches "car wash" - in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day - at ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters on Monday and Tuesday. Ole... read more

    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss At SEC Media Days

      Friday, July 18, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss took its turn at the annual SEC Media Days on Thursday. Joining head coach Hugh Freeze was senior quarterback Bo Wallace, junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and senior safety Cody Prewitt. Here are a few related SEC Media... read more

    • Rebels Raise Expectations Entering Year Three

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said on day one that his expectations were to make the program relevant in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. With a full allotment of 85 scholarship players and more depth of both sides of... read more

    • Healthy, Confident Wallace Eyes Atlanta

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Once overshadowed, Wallace now finds himself more firmly in the spotlight after the departure of seven of the league's eight top passers. The dean of SEC quarterbacks, Wallace is the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing... read more

    • Freeze Meets With Local Media At Media Days

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Before taking his turn at the podium in the main room at SEC Media Days on Thursday, head coach Hugh Freeze met with members of the Ole Miss local media and addressed a wide variety of topics. Here are some... read more

    • What They're Saying: Day 3 Of SEC Media Days

      Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Three of SEC Media Days, which featured Steve Shaw (SEC), Justin Connolly (ESPN),... read more

    • What They're Saying: Day 2 Of SEC Media Days

      Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M... read more

    • Ole Miss In CFB 24/7 14 For '14 Series

      Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - Football

      NFL.com CFB 24/7 has counted down the 14 college football players to watch -- and some other college football topics -- in varying categories in 2014. Below are the highlights for Ole Miss and the link to the complete 14... read more

    • What They're Saying: Day 1 Of SEC Media Days

      Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day 1 of SEC Media Days, which featured SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Auburn, Florida... read more

    • Cozart Named Best Defensive SS Of First Half

      Sunday, July 13, 2014 - Baseball

      Former Ole Miss player Zack Cozart, now a member of the Cincinnati Reds, was named the best defensive shortstop in baseball for the first half of the 2014 season. ESPN Insider Scott Spratt selected one player from either league at... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Baseball Postseason

      Saturday, July 12, 2014 - Baseball

      The Season: Ole Miss Baseball: Omaha Bound from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 1: Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 2: Super Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 3: CWS Games 1 & 2... read more

    • Ole Miss Preps For SEC Media Days

      Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - Football

      Three student-athletes and the head coach of each of the 14 Southeastern Conference football programs will participate in SEC Football Media Days, July 14-17, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.Ole Miss will take its... read more

    • Ole Miss And The World Cup

      Thursday, July 3, 2014 - Athletics

      The United States' run in the 2014 World Cup came to an end with a 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium in the Round of 16. For many fans, it's also the end of the road, but for a few Ole... read more

    • Kennedy Talks Staff, Roster On Teleconference

      Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - Men's Basketball

      Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy talks about the addition of assistant coach Tony Madlock and the new-look roster for the upcoming season, among other topics, on the SEC Summer Men's Basketball Coaches Media Teleconference Monday. Here are the highlights:Ole... read more