Friends School senior soccer player Eliza Harris knows where she wants to go in life, and she's working hard to get there. "I have a lot of interest in working for the government," said Harris, a Roland Park resident. "I am hoping to work in the state department in foreign affairs — being a diplomat or something like that."
Harris has studied French for 13 years, and said she's close to speaking the language fluently.
She will attend the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall, where she plans to continue studying French, while learning Arabic at the same time.
She will also play soccer for the Midshipmen after her four-year, record-breaking career at Friends.
The 5-foot-6 Harris knows she needs to ratchet up her training to another level to prepare for the rigors of Division I soccer.
She got some good advice from her brother Andy, a goalie at Wake Forest University and former All-American at Gilman School, whom she calls a role model.
Harris has been working as much as two hours per day for soccer as well as plebe summer.
"I definitely saw that I needed to step it up with my training," Harris said. "That's why I have been working out hard, really hard, and every day. I think it's a big change from what I am used to."
Friends coach Nick Gill said Harris is in the best shape of her life. He has coached her for four years and has seen her training first-hand.
"She will be prepared for the transition," Gill said. "We have talked about her career after Friends for four years. I see her constantly at the Friends fitness center. She works harder than 75 percent of the guys. She's the hardest worker I have ever coached, and I was at Calvert Hall for three years."
Gill thinks Harris could be one of Navy's best players, even in her first or second year.
"In my opinion, she will be a major contributor to Navy right away," Gill said. "I believe she was the number one recruit for Navy. She is a high-profile player. She had a couple of offers from other Division I schools early on."
Harris, who carries a 3.65 grade-point average, said she also had a lot of interest in attending Dartmouth University and Wake Forest before choosing the Naval Academy.
"I wanted to serve my country and that was a deciding factor," Harris explained. "I also like challenging myself, and I thought the academy would be a good place to do it. And I didn't want a typical college experience."
Harris capped her senior year by earning Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer First-Team All-State honors. She broke Alice Fadiora's career mark for goals with 70 and single-season record by notching 25 as a senior to lead Friends to a 14-1-5 record and Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship.
Harris, who played forward, defense and midfield, also owns the Quakers' school record for assists (70).
"She was by far the strongest player in the league," Gill said. "She would been one of the top players in the A Conference. She is a very gifted athlete, but her dedication to understanding the game is better than anyone I have ever coached."
Harris, who has played soccer for 13 years, competes year-round for the Bowie-based Maryland United U-18 club team. She will travel to San Diego for a tournament in April and has participated in events in California, Florida and Illinois.
"She plays on one of the best teams in the country for her age group," Gill said.
Maryland United coach Shannon Cirovski said Harris' biggest asset is her determination.
"I love her competitive nature and will to win," Cirovski said. "She trains so hard and has the ability to just go, go, go. She is so courageous. She will put herself in front of a moving truck if you ask her to."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun