By Bethany Drysdale

           Cleveland, Ohio is a place I know well. It is a city of hard working, long-suffering and tough rust belt folks. A city built on the backs of industrial manufacturing jobs; steel and iron mills, coal plants and foundries, along with the railroads, giving the city its early identity in the booming rust belt of Industrial America. Buckets of lake-effect snow cover the ground through early April, as the city averages 60 inches a year. Until the 2016 Cavaliers, Cleveland had not won a championship in baseball, basketball or football, since the 1964 Browns. It is here, in snowy northeast Ohio, Tommy Harrison learned to skate in the suburbs of metro Cleveland. Tommy is every bit of his hometown’s identity.

            As an incoming freshman to the Rebels team, he has already seen plenty of action on game day, starting in 12 games and getting 1 assist. What is unique about Tommy is his ability to be a two-way player, starting at both defense and forward when needed. The 6’1 Harrison came to UNLV from the USPHL Carolina Eagles, where he played 44 games with 4 goals and 13 assists.

            Tommy is not shy about meeting new people, and always has a smile when he is out on the ice. The only time I have ever see his disposition change, is when he broke his favorite stick last week at practice. Even then he managed to bring a smile when he gave the broken stick to Blake and Lucas as a souvenir that now serves as Blake’s primary stick. His mom always told him to play with smiles, and he certainly does. Watching his older brother, Rachid, play hockey is what sparked the fire, getting Tommy out on the ice. He used his brother’s broken sticks and old equipment until he was a teenager. Now it’s Tommy who can pass along the broken sticks to the little guys starting out.

            There is a sense of passion that Tommy brings to the ice. It’s easy to see when you watch him, how much he enjoys the game. Often times, he stays later after practice to work on tip drills and shots on goal from the point. Since he does not have his own car in Las Vegas, he has not yet seen some of the natural landscapes of Nevada, but plans to do so before he leaves UNLV. When asked what he sees himself doing in five years, he replied that he takes life one day at a time, but would love to live near the beach. After all the long winters in northeast Ohio, I can attest to that same dream. The advice he gives to younger players is to eat right and stay in shape. Conditioning drills in the off-season and avoiding fast food will help your body stay at peak performance levels. He said he ate healthy and organic food, before it was trendy.

            The best advice Tommy was given was “don’t be afraid to fall.” This resonated with me in so many ways. Fear of falling or failing is what keeps so many of us from trying new things. It is through these trials that we eventually find success. Come out this Saturday to Green Valley Ranch at 5pm and try something new if you have never skated before. Meet Tommy and the rest of the team as they raise money to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital.