It took nearly 800 emails and countless hours of training, but Clarksville High School’s Harrison Watts has actualized his goal of playing collegiate soccer.
Watts’ motor and natural offensive ability helped him score over 80 goals across his high school career. He notched his 31st score this season in Monday’s regular-season finale against Kenwood, marking a new personal best for the senior.
One day later, he signed a letter of intent to play at NCAA Division II Lees-McRae College.
“It’s crazy, because it’s a big jump coming from high school soccer, and being around the guys, this is like a second family to me,” he said. “I’m going to a new college (where) I only know two or three of them. It’s going to be a change, but I’m ready for it. I’m ready to play.”
Watts has played at the striker and midfield positions for head coach Michael Massie this spring. Massie, now in his second year with the program, says the constant double and triple teams his best player receives will ultimately benefit him with the Bobcats.
“I think he really does like that pressure, because it’s helping him get ready for the next level,” Massie said. “It’s great to have a player like that that really has a high soccer IQ and understands the game.”
His recruiting process began in the fall of 2020 with Darlington Soccer Academy in Rome, Ga. After competing in each tournament with DSA, Watts would send out 40 emails to college coaches from August until December.
He admits that the process quickly became frustrating but came to fruition when his chance with LMC came. The Bobcats were the first team to recruit him.
“It’s hard work. It is a little discouraging when you email 40 coaches (and) you get two emails back, but you have to bug them. You have to keep going, and you don’t really give up on it.
“I didn’t get an email back from Lees-McRae until the fourth email, but I kept emailing. They eventually emailed me back and agreed to watch me play, and here I am signing for them.”
Fellow Darlington School teammates Rayhaan Dharsey and Daniel and Joshua Garvilla will also join the program in the fall. Former Fairview and DSA defenseman Nate Phillips additionally played with Watts and made eight starts for Lees-McRae in 2020. All five players spent time under Bobcats’ head coach Shane Calvert, who previously served in a multitude of positions at the academy.
But before reuniting with his travel ball coach and teammates, Watts must direct his dedication toward postseason play with the Wildcats, where a loss could close the book on his high school career. The Wildcats come in as the third seed and aim for their first D13-AAA title since 2018.
“All we can do is do better,” he said. “I think that us coming in as the underdog, I think we could win this as well as any other team could.”