Nothing will slow down Northern’s Jalen Harris

Whether he’s out on the diamond or on the ice, Jalen Harris is just one of the boys.

Though he’s only in grade 9, Harris has been a key member of two varsity teams – hockey and baseball – at Northern Secondary School this year.

The talented two-sport athlete is also deaf. He’s been deaf since birth as both his cochleas never developed properly.

A cochlear implant, surgically inserted into his right ear prior to his third birthday, has given Harris the ability to hear. Without it he is profoundly deaf.

“It’s never hindered him at all,” said Harris’ father Terry.

Though his play often speaks for itself, the elder Harris said his son often surprises opponents who don’t know him well.

“Most people think because he’s deaf, he doesn’t talk,” Terry Harris said. “When he speaks, it blows their minds.”

Harris’ athletic talents are also mind-blowing.

Besides helping the Red Knights advance to the South Region hockey final, this past season Harris was also a star defenceman with the Mississauga Rebels’ AAA minor midget squad.

Also, earlier this month Harris helped Team Ontario win the national deaf hockey championship in Whitby.

The 15-year-old, who was the youngest member on his provincial squad, is also considered a favourite to represent Canada at the 2009 world deaf championships in Winnipeg as well as the 2010 Deaf Olympics in British Columbia.

Though he is keen on continuiung hockey for the Red Knights and in deaf tournaments, Harris is quitting rep hockey to concentrate on baseball.

“It’s time for Jalen to make a move,” said his father, adding his son also plays for the Ontario Tigers’ under-19 baseball squad, a club that trains year-round.

The Tigers compete in the Canadian Showcase Baseball League during May and August. And during the summer months they spend most weekends participating at tournaments in the U.S.

Jalen Harris is eventually hoping to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Jesse and land a baseball scholarship from a school south of the border. Jesse Harris is a freshman with Iowa’s Muscatine Cardinals.

“That’s where I definitely want to be,” Jalen Harris said of the NCAA ranks.

For now though, Harris’ thoughts are with Northern, which posted a 7-0-1 record in its South Region regular season.

“I think we can go really far,” Harris said of Red Knights’ post-season.

Northern coach Brian Gaw believes his skilled rookie will eventually garner the attention of American university scouts. Besides pitching some innings for Northern this season, Harris has also shone playing centre field, shortstop and second base.

“For a young kid he’s come in with a lot of poise and confidence,” Gaw said. “And he’s just going to get stronger and better. He’ll land a scholarship somewhere.”

About this article:

By: Sam Laskaris
Posted: Jul 4 2008 3:30 am
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto