Checking in with VFL Isabelle Harrison: Carrying Pat Summitt’s legacy, to the season and the bubble

Sports

Video from Dallas Wings press conference

KNOXVILLE, Tenn: (WATE) – The WNBA will tip on Saturday, July 25 with back-to-back action all weekend as all 12 teams begin an unprecedented 22-game season.

Former Lady Vol and current center for the Dallas Wings Isabelle “Izzy” Harrison gave some insight ahead of this unusual season.

The Wings will take the court against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday, July 26 at 5 P.M., capping off the triple-header action. Winding down on the last week of practice ahead of the season’s start, Harrison says the Wings are looking “really good right now” and that she is ready for season competition.

With teams all quarantined to one place, players find themselves in a unique situation, not having to fly commercial back home after a game but instead can head right up to their rooms to rest. While not having to deal with the toll of traveling is a plus, it’s much needed as the players will not have as much time to recover between games as they normally would. As Harrison notes, being a professional athlete, they adjust to deal with the changes.

“Being a pro you got to know how to utilize that [time] as best as possible because our games are basically back to back to back,” notes Harrison, “So, we get more rest but you’re going to have to make sure you recover your body that much faster because we don’t have those days in between like we used to.”

WNBA players are living, practicing, and will play their season in a “bubble” in Bradenton, Florida at IMG Academy.

With any change, it takes some time to adjust to the new lifestyle and any nuisances that follow with a brand new procedure, however, Harrison says she is comfortable.

“Nobody really knows how it’s going to go, so we just have to be able to adapt,” says Harrison, “I’m at a place where I’m comfortable. I love the food, I love my room, I see people here and there, so it’s kind of like a big AAU camp really.”

Harrison, who has spent time playing overseas and in the WNBA, continues to carry aspects of life and the game that she learned under legendary Pat Summitt. Harrison is part of a small group of former Lady Vols (Candace Parker, Glory Johnson, and Shekinna Stricklen) carrying Summitt’s legacy; which, Harrison says, is like carrying a badge of honor.

“We just got to make sure we keep on keeping that ‘Tennessee mentality’ continuing throughout all of our teams,” says the VFL, I’m making sure I do that on my team with defensive rebounds cause it wins games, so I hope Pat’s proud of me.”

Summitt honed in on defense while coaching at Tennessee, and that is one part of the game Harrison retained while playing on the women’s basketball pioneer that she carries with her professionally.

“If you didn’t play defense you weren’t playing and to be honest, I think that’s what I’ve kept in mind throughout the years,” says Harrison with passion.

An aspect of life Harrison picked up after playing for Summitt her freshman year is to have a good attitude about everything, and to appreciate your blessings. The Wings Center recalls Summitt coming to watch their practices despite battling dementia, as watching them play and being with the team brought her joy.

“Just look at your situations and find the positive out of it,” said Harrison.

The league’s opening weekend will be dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement, with team uniforms to display Breonna Taylor’s name as WNBA players raise awareness and seek justice for the women and girls who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence according to the league.

Harrison has been actively working to inspire positive social change, creating her own campaign #IAmCampaign.

Harrison wants to create an open space for people to share their stories on “any issue or social injustice issue” someone has gone through.

“I’ve been overseas and in the states, whenever you find something in common with another person you instantly bond. I want to be able to bring people together like that through something that’s so widespread right now,” said Harrison.

The Wings support her campaign, mirroring the league’s support for its players which is something Harrison reveres and appreciates.

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