Dionna M. Harris (born 4 March 1968) competed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta where she led the USA team in batting average (.409) and received a gold medal with the American team.
Harris attended and played softball at Delcastle Technical High School in Wilmington, Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College. After graduating from community college, she attended Temple University where she played second base and was named the 1990 Temple University Player of the Year. Following college, Harris joined the Amateur Softball Association and played outfielder for the Connecticut Brakettes (1990-1994) and the California Jazz (1995-1996). Harris made the United States National team from 1993 to 1996, earning gold medals at the 1993 Intercontinental Cup, 1994 PanAm Games, 1995 Australian Games and 1996 Olympic Games.
Olympian Dionna Harris answers my 10 questions. Written By Gary Leland
Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?
A. I started playing softball when I was 9 years old with Stanton-Newport Little League in Wilmington, DE.
Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?
A. My greatest influence in my life has always been my Dad…he was not an athlete, but he always believed in me & dreams & always told me to never go through life with regrets.
Q. How do you get ready for a game?
A. I used a lot of visualization and meditation techniques when I played. I listened to a tape that helped me get to a comfortable, relaxed place and practiced visualization.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?
A. When I finished w/ softball, I went back and received my masters degree in counseling and I have been counseling students with disabilities for the past 18 yrs. For fun, I do a lot of hiking and camping at National Parks.
Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?
A. The influences that affected me the most were my ability to set goals, determination to achieve them, and perseverance to overcome any obstacles that may have gotten in the way. I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with positive people who believed in me and pushed me along if I needed a little pushing.
Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?
A. When I played, I never touched the field lines. I also used visualization tapes and wore a bear necklace that a friend had given me that symbolized looking within yourself for answers.
Q. What is your favorite softball memory?
A. My favorite softball memory by far is standing on the Gold Medal stand and hearing our National Anthem played.
Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?
A. I hold mental training in the highest regard. Coaches always stated that hitting was 20% mechanics and 80% mental and I never understood why so many people spend so much time on the 20% lol. I would recommend players learning techniques to control the mental part of hitting and incorporate them into their daily practice routines.
Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?
A. I think the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was growing up in Delaware and being the first one in my family to go to a four year college. I was always putting myself in situations where I would get exposure and learn from the softball greats, and rarely passed up an opportunity to try something or learn something new.
Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?
A. I have to say that I am doing what I believe I was intended to do…..school counselor for students with disabilities.
1996 U.S.A. Softball Team Member ( Outfielder )
Gold Medallist 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta
Highest batting average on Olympic Team ( .409 )
1995 U.S.A. National Team Member ( Outfielder )
Gold Medallist 1995 Australian Games, held in Sydney – Brisbane – Canbena Australia
Runner up – Canadian Cup – White Rock, British Columbia ( Outfielder ) California Jazz
1994 National Team Member – ( Outfielder )
Gold Medallist PanAm Games Guatemala City, Guatemala
1993 National Team Member ( Outfielder )
Gold Medallist at the Intercontinental Cup held in Harlaam, Holland
Amateur Softball Association Women’s Major Fastpitch
1995 – 1996 Outfielder for California Jazz
1990 – 1994 Outfielder for Raybesto’s Brakettes of Stratford, CT
Six Time A.S.A Women’s National Champion
Four Time Participant in U.S.A. Olympic Festival ( 2 Gold – 1 Bronze )
Women’s National Tournament Batting Champion ( .611 )
1988 – 1989 Temple University ( Second Baseman )
Two time All Atlantic 10 All Conference Player
First Team North East All American
1989 Atlantic 10 Player of the year
Holds various hitting records at Temple University
1986 – 1988 Delaware Community College
Two Time All American
High School Career
1982 – 1986 Delcastle High School
4 Time All State Player
4 Time All Conference Player
M.V.P. Senior All State Game
Retired High School Jersey ( #11 )
1996 Delaware Athlete of the Year