“[Harrod] really knew the sport,” senior Tran said in anticipating her final year of play with the Lady Knights, “and it was much less rigorous to have someone with so much experience (to learn it from).” Things were “much less rigorous” in the sense that Harrod could help direct without a lot of wasted energy, all the while demanding in her expectations for conditioning and training.
As Harrod’s November induction into the San Diego Coaches Hall of Fame nears, Tran fondly recalled her former coach’s “quiet” manner while being “the rock of the team.”
Harrod, during her service as varsity coach at Bishop’s until the late 1990s, led her teams into the CIF playoffs 27 times in 28 years, winning 11 league titles and ending up CIF runner-up once.
She later was called back to Bishop’s to help rebuild the program and serve as junior varsity coach. In that capacity, she coached Tran and four of her teammates as freshmen, her last cohort of whom are to graduate as seniors this year: left midfielder Tran, goalie Nadine Bradbury, left back Shanelle Chen, right back Adeline Shin, and center back Daphne Lin.
Harrod became the mentor to Tran and her teammates that Harrod herself, growing up in upstate New York, never had. Harrod played field hockey prior to the implementation of Title IX, the early 1970s federal statute that mandated equal opportunities for girls in academic institutions.
“I played field hockey growing up,” said Harrod, who substitute teaches at Bishop’s and attends games periodically, “but you didn’t have organized sports for women.”
Meanwhile, Harrod has furnished Tran a role model as well as counsel for living. “Coach H was also a great person,” said the senior, who is looking at eastern colleges, including Brown and Wellesley, to attend next year. “It was great to connect with her in the classroom and on the field. Even now, I would go to her.”
Gary Hendrickson, current Bishop’s varsity field hockey coach and an English teacher at the school, views Harrod as a kind of Renaissance woman, pursuing the ancient Greek ideal of balance between the physical and the aesthetic.
“(Harrod) is a reader and a writer,” he said. “She is as much a scholar as an athlete. That’s what she’s all about as a coach. She’s a very educated, cultured person. She is one of the people I admire the most in my life. And it has been that way since I met her.”
Regarding coaching philosophy, Harrod said, “I certainly was much more interested in the process than the immediate outcome or the record. So I wanted the girls to play hard and take pride in what they did.”
At 5’2”, Tran uses her speed and ball awareness to help connect the defense to the offense. Harrod chimes in with Hendrickson on Tran’s intangibles, which include “being a very giving person when she’s out there,” not something you always hear of athletes trying to make their mark. This total package of technical skill, teamwork and leadership earned her All-CIF Second Team honors as a junior.
Interestingly, Tran, who carried a 4.46 grade-point average at last look, says one of the attractive points of field hockey for her is time to think.
“Bishop’s is a very academically rigorous” – there’s that word again -- “school. There’s a lot of stress and a lot of pressure. On the field, we’re all the same.”
“If you’re mad at somebody, or if I got a bad grade on a test, I can take out my frustration.”
Looking ahead to her college studies, Tran says she has always been a “math and science person.” But this year, English has become more appealing. “It’s such a good English department (at school),” she said. “It has allowed me to enjoy reading, which is something I never enjoyed” in earlier grades.
And Hendrickson, her field hockey coach, is her present English teacher.