Calvin Harris plays forward for the men’s soccer team. A sophomore intending to major in Communication, Harris hails from Middlesbrough, England, but has moved between Hong Kong and New Zealand while pursuing his career as a soccer player. He represented Phoenix in the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and was named the New Zealand Schools National Tournament MVP in 2018. Since coming to Wake Forest, Harris has been named the ACC Co-Offensive Player of the Week twice.
Khushi Arya: How did you get into soccer?
Calvin Harris: I have been playing soccer ever since I was three-years-old. My family used to watch it religiously and soccer was just something that was always around me growing up in England. Also, my dad briefly played soccer professionally, which further piqued my interest in the sport.
KA: You were born in England, moved to Hong Kong when you were 10, to New Zealand when you were 14 and now you are in the United States. What have you learned from living in all of these different countries?
CH: I think I have had very insightful experiences in all these countries, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that the world really is a small place. Everyone is unique but at the end of the day, all humans are bound by the same emotions and passions. You can learn a lot from the people you meet if you take the time to actually listen to their personal stories. It is truly intriguing how different, yet interconnected, our lives are.
KA: What made you pick Wake Forest?
CH: I knew I wanted to play soccer in college, but I also wanted to get a well-rounded education, so Wake Forest was the best of both worlds. Wake [Forest] is a great division-one school with a top-ranked soccer program, as well as high academic prestige. I vividly remember the first time I saw the Wake Forest campus when I was touring. My dad and I toured in the fall and as everyone knows, fall in the forest is utterly mesmerizing. We also got to watch a soccer game. Overall, that experience convinced me to spend the next four years of my life here. Wake Forest’s size is also perfect since it is easy to meet people and go from one place to another without having a long commute.
KA: Do you have any pre-game superstitions or rituals?
CH: Yes! This year I have been calling my brother and my dad right before the game, and it has been working very well so far. In addition to that phone call, I always give them a ring after a win for what I call a quick “celebratory call.” I guess I will continue to do that for the rest of the season.
KA: What’s your favorite memory as a member of the soccer team?
CH: That’s a tough one, I have made so many wonderful memories here that it’s hard to pick just one. If I were to single out a special moment, it would be early in the 2019 season when my family came to watch two games here. It was a great feeling because I scored during those games, and they were here to witness my success. They wanted to come again this year but obviously that is not possible at the moment. I hope they can come when things get better.
KA: In your opinion, how is soccer viewed differently in the U.S. compared to England or New Zealand?
CH: In the U.S., the three biggest sports are football, baseball and soccer. Obviously, professional football players get paid a lot more since football is the dominant sport here, but on a global-scale, soccer has the largest appeal, and I think people are aware of that. Especially at Wake Forest, our team is known for being great and we get a good amount of fans at most of our games. Our supporters are loyal and despite the dominant football culture, we have been able to build an audience that values our hard work and appreciates our game just as much as we do.
KA: What does a regular week of training look like for men’s soccer?
CH: During a regular season, we play two or three games per week. Usually, we have mid-week practice-games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to prepare for the games on the weekends. We get a maximum of two off-days in the week.
KA: How do you balance schoolwork with such an intense soccer schedule?
CH: My academic advisors provide me a lot of support to ensure that I stay on track with my academics. It definitely requires substantial time management and commitment. I have to plan everything in advance and stick to my schedule, or else I would easily fall behind. Following a schedule also allows me to have some time to relax. Eventually, you get used to it and the discipline comes naturally.
KA: How do you feel about this season so far, in light of the pandemic?
CH: COVID-19 has certainly brought about considerable changes designed for our safety and wellbeing. For instance, the team used to hang out in the locker room a lot, but now we can only have 10 people in there at any given time. Families and visitors cannot come to watch our games either. However, Wake Forest has been very cautious and diligent, and I think we are dealing with the situation responsibly. We wear masks during training and get tested three times a week. In terms of performance and rankings, we are doing great and I am hopeful that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
KA: How did the pandemic affect your training this past summer? With all the travel restrictions in place, did you get to go home?
CH: Yes, I went back to Hong Kong and spent half my year at home. It was the one silver lining to the pandemic since I got to spend a final stretch of time living in that house before my family decided to move to England. As for training, I was able to play soccer for a while before everything got shut down, when the country went into lockdown. I did my best to practice by playing with my dad and brother.
KA: Do you have a soccer idol or a favorite player you look up to? What’s your favorite team?
CH: My soccer idols change all the time. I like to watch a broad range of players like Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr., along with younger players such as Mason Greenwood, in order to learn from their performances. I closely observe players who play in my position as it helps me improve my technique. My favorite team? It’s pretty obvious, it’s Barça.
KA: Apart from soccer, what is something that you do for fun?
CH: School work keeps me very busy when I am not on the field. I do enjoy the occasional Netflix binge. Lately, I have been watching Money Heist but I am not caught up on the last season. I can’t wait to finish it when I get the time.
KA: What advice would you give to a student-athlete wanting to continue their career at Wake Forest?
CH: I would say that being genuinely good at your sport is important, but you should have good grades to back you up. Wake Forest is a competitive school and as a prospective student, having a well-rounded application will help you get in. Additionally, you need to build your resume by having videos of your performance in order to prove your skills. I would suggest having as many quality videos as possible. All things said and done, it all comes down to your love for the sport. Even if you don’t get into Wake Forest, it is not the end of the world. You can play your sport and prove yourself anywhere, the key is to keep pushing yourself to do better and aim higher.
KA: What are your future plans? Do you plan to play professionally?
CH: I have always wanted to play professionally. As a child, I played in the UK and went to Sweden for a bit. I have been to a lot of countries for soccer and though I don’t have a set team that I really want to play for, I know for sure that pro soccer is my end goal. When things get hard, I think of little Calvin who dreamed of playing soccer at the level that I’m playing at now, and I cannot let that little kid down. I like to take small steps leading up to the big picture as everything seems to fall into place when my focus is on my daily grind.