Nov. 28, 2013
Other Pete LaFleur Profile Features For 2013-14
By Pete LaFleur ('90)
Some day, a movie needs to be made about the life of Harrison "Harry" Shipp, the unassuming Notre Dame senior men's soccer player who earlier this week was recognized as the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year® for Division I men's soccer, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Such a movie would need to have the feel of various epic films over the years that have depicted unique individuals, people of distinction who somehow seem to be operating on a different plane than the rest of us. You know the type of characters we are talking about here - those who leave you scratching your head, wondering: "Is this guy for real?"
We're thinking something combining certain elements of Forrest Gump, Benjamin Button, Rain Man and Russell Crowe's A Beautiful Mind. Throw in some of Rudy for the Notre Dame angle and diminutive character story line, maybe even add something akin to Kicking and Screaming for the early-life and comedic sequences (hey, you've got to have soccer in there somewhere, and Will Ferrell in anything is box office gold, right?). If you ever saw the old Peter Sellers classic, Being There, some aspects of that film even could work, portraying a central figure who rarely speaks - but when he does, his words make a deep impact.
And for the title of such a movie? Well, Shipp is the type of individual who has attracted various nicknames over the years. Legendary Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark has attached the moniker of "Wizard" to Shipp, in reference to his magical play with the ball at his feet. A self-described nomad at times, Shipp also has amazed his teammates off the field, with some even coining the name "The Wanderer" to describe the senior forward's uncanny ability to seemingly float in and out of his own life and the lives of others.
So we give you "Harrison Shipp: The Wandering Wizard of Notre Dame Soccer," coming soon to a theater near you.
But, in all seriousness, Shipp has weaved his own epic tale as a Notre Dame student-athlete. Set to graduate in only three-and-a-half years, the Chicago-area native has compiled virtually all A grades en route to a 3.88 cumulative grade-point average, as a finance major in the nation's top-ranked undergraduate business school. Only a couple A-minus marks and four B-plus grades have prevented him from attaining a 4.0.
The 5-foot-9 playmaking frontrunner is the seventh individual (first since 2003) in Notre Dame's storied athletics history to be recognized with a CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year designation. A few weeks earlier, the nation's premier collegiate soccer league, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), recognized Shipp as its Offensive Player of the Year, a huge honor for first-year ACC team Notre Dame.
Now, Shipp's days as a student-athlete are ticking down, but the team tri-captain still can help direct one final, major accomplishment for Bobby Clark's team. The Irish, seeded third in the 2013 NCAA Championship, stand two games away from the college soccer promised land: playing on the final weekend in the College Cup, as one of four teams left standing.
The Notre Dame men's soccer team twice has reached the NCAA quarterfinals (in 2006 and '07) but has yet to take that big step in reaching the final weekend. The next test comes Sunday night, Dec. 1 (7 ET), as the Irish play host to 14th-seeded Wake Forest. By advancing, Notre Dame then would face the winner of 11th-seed Michigan State at 6-seed Georgetown in the following week's quarterfinal round.
And beyond the college season, Shipp is rated as one of the top collegiate prospects who are set to begin their professional playing careers in 2014 within Major League Soccer (MLS).
But before Shipp heads off to the MLS, his coaches and teammates hope he still has four games left to play for the Irish. And then, they will bid him a fond adieu.
"Harry Shipp is the perfect example of what a Notre Dame student-athlete is all about," says the ever-thankful coach Clark. "He is a near-perfect student who has wonderful time management skills.
"On the soccer field, Harry is a magician. I call him a wizard since he can conjure up amazing feats when none seem possible. Lastly, he has quietly grown into a true leader of the team. He really doesn't talk much, but what he does say has great meaning and carries tremendous weight within the team. He has been an absolute pleasure to coach, and we will miss him greatly."
An in-depth feature profile of Shipp - the outline of our movie script, if you will - follows below, after some initial notes about Notre Dame's history within the Academic All-America program.
An Academic All-America Tradition
Notre Dame sophomore right-flank midfielder Patrick Hodan (Brookfield, Wis.) also was among the 33 total Division I men's soccer players named to the 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-America team, as a third-team selection. In the process, Notre Dame became the nation's only DI men's soccer team (from among 203) with multiple 2013 Academic All-Americans on its current roster. It also marked the first time that double honor has happened in the history of the Irish men's soccer program.
Hodan, a second team all-ACC performer who intends to follow in Shipp's footsteps by declaring his major is finance, carries a 3.917 cumulative GPA. The Wisconsin native ranks second on the 2013 team with 19 points (17 goals, 5 assists), trailing only Shipp's 30 (11G-8A)
Of the final 16 squads remaining in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship, only Notre Dame, Marquette and UCLA have an Academic All-American on their rosters. Interestingly, the Marquette honoree (first team) is goalkeeper Charlie Lyon, a product of the same Chicago Fire developmental academy program that has helped sharpen Shipp's skills.
Amidst the elite Atlantic Coast Conference, only Notre Dame and Clemson (first-team midfielder Thomas McNamara) can boast any 2013 Academic All-Americans.
Former Notre Dame basketball star post player Ruth Riley was named the 2000-01 Academic All-American of the Year encompassing all Division I women's sports for that year, while soccer goalkeeper Jen Renola similarly was honored as Academic All-American of the Year for 1996-97 among an assortment of "at-large" sports, as some such as soccer did not transition to their own Academic All-American of the Year until 2001-02.
In addition to Riley, Renola and Shipp, the four others from Notre Dame who have received Academic All-American of the Year (each in their respective sport) have included: football offensive lineman Tim Ruddy ('93), men's basketball forward Pat Garrity ('98), softball third base standout Jarrah Meyers ('02), and women's soccer defender Vanessa Pruzinksy ('03).
Since the soccer-specific Academic All-American of the Year designation began in 2001, Notre Dame and North Carolina are the only schools that have produced both a men's soccer and women's soccer top honoree.
Notre Dame women's soccer senior left back Elizabeth Tucker joined Shipp in receiving 2013 first team Academic All-America honors. The accounting major with the 4.0 cumulative GPA is the 15th student-athlete in Notre Dame athletics history to be named a first team Academic All-American for multiple seasons (also in 2012).
With the honors for Shipp, Tucker and Hodan, Notre Dame joined five others - Marquette, Denver, West Virginia, Dayton and Kentucky - as the only schools with 2013 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in both men's and women's soccer.
Notre Dame and Seattle, which produced three women's soccer Academic All-Americans, tied for the most combined soccer All-Americans (men and women) in 2013. Notre Dame ranks second all-time with 234 Academic All-Americans since the program's inception in 1952. During the past 15 years, 108 Notre Dame student-athletes (7.2 per year) have earned the Academic All-America distinction, third-most from any school in the country during that span.
Throughout Notre Dame's athletics history, an elite group of high achievers have combined All-America and Academic All-America honors during their careers. That esteemed group of 63 all-time Notre Dame student-athletes - which includes former men's soccer players Ryan Miller (2003-07) and Matt Besler (2005-08) - likely will be joined by Shipp, who surely will be adding some sort of official All-America honors to his 2013 awards haul.
Shipp and Hodan are the 50th different pair of Notre Dame teammates to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors during the same season, spanning nine different sports (also football, baseball, women's basketball, softball, women's soccer, men's cross country, men's track and field, and women's track and field).
Not too many people experience having three younger siblings when they are only three-and-a-half years old themselves, but such was the case for Harrison Shipp. Twins Michael and Abby were the first to arrive, followed by sister Samantha, known by the family as "Sammy."
Four kids under the age of four and the Shipp family was good to go, with Harry leading the way. "Even as a little kid, Harry always seemed like an old soul and was very helpful with his siblings," recalls his appreciative mother, Kathleen Shipp.
Of course, if you fast-forward the timeline 18 years, that adds up to having all four Shipp children in college at the same time during the current 2013 fall semester. Harry and Michael, a pre-med student and sophomore defender on the Irish soccer team, are experiencing a special time together at Notre Dame. Abby is a sophomore business student at the University of Denver, playing non-varsity club soccer, and Sammy is in the midst of her freshman year at Vanderbilt, intending to major in organizational development and managerial studies.
Lifelong residents of the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, the Shipp siblings have experienced the various stages of their young lives in similar time frames, with Harry always the first to try certain sports, head off to school, etc. All four of the siblings were together on Sunday, Nov. 24, as the sisters were on break from their respective schools and were able to cheer on Notre Dame's dominating 4-0 win over Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA tournament (Harry scored two of the goals).
"We took being together for granted over the years, but it's harder now that we are going to three different colleges that are not in close proximity," notes Harry.
"It's always been nice for me and my siblings to experience the same stages of life at the same time. We grew up together and I always have had the three of them to talk to about things I'm going through. It's interesting that we're actually closer now, even though we see each other less. Moments together are so rare, we appreciate them more when do get to have family time."
Harry says he shares Abby's calm demeanor and ability to seemingly "never get rattled," while he and Michael obviously have a big tie through soccer, academics and Notre Dame. Like most youngest children in bigger families, Sammy is the most outgoing - "she probably talks more than the three other siblings combined," grins Harry.
"Sammy is incredibly smart and we have the same sense of humor. We always laugh at each other's jokes. She also is the only one of us four who is not into soccer, probably because she got dragged to so many of her older siblings' soccer tournaments growing up."
Sibling Rivalry ... Brotherly Bond
Harry and Michael Shipp spent two years playing together at Lake Forest High School, followed of course by these past two seasons as teammates at Notre Dame. Michael was a high-scoring forward at Lake Forest, but he has converted to the defense at Notre Dame, where an injury unfortunately has limited his production this season
"We had a great team at Lake Forest my senior year and I loved passing Michael the ball, putting him in position to score so many of those goals," says the proud older brother, who served mostly as a midfielder during his prep days.
The brothers who shared a bedroom for 18 years were reunited at Notre Dame in the fall of 2012, although Michael's draw to the university was more academic-driven. As a pre-med student (technically science pre-professional), the younger Shipp brother has a significantly more demanding curriculum.
"Initially, Michael was not sure if he wanted to play college soccer, because of the academic load he would be undertaking," recalls Harry. "When he first joined the soccer team here, he seemed nervous and lacked the type of confidence I had felt when coming in as a freshman."
While Michael was adjusting to life as a collegiate student-athlete, Harry simply was adjusting to the concept of having his younger brother around.
"When Michael started his freshman year, it was like he was temporarily visiting and I did not grasp that I would be seeing him every day for the next couple years," says Harry, flashing a little grin.
"He eventually settled in and got into the routine. I'm really proud of how well he is doing in soccer and of course in school. He's definitely smarter than me. A big part of college is adjusting to the transition of living on your own, and he is doing it successfully at a great place like Notre Dame."
Some early talks with his older brother gave Michael the encouragement he needed to become more confident and comfortable with the challenges he faced in this newfound independence.
"I've always looked up to Harry as a soccer player. He's been one of my role models for as long as I can remember," says the equally proud younger brother.
"I probably never would have started playing soccer if Harry didn't pick up the game at such a young age. I used to watch his practices and I felt like I was missing out. He always worked so much harder than everyone to get better. It's been 15-plus years and he still inspires everyone around him to work harder."
A running joke among the Shipp family members - but also within the Notre Dame men's soccer program - revolves around one question: which brother is smarter, Harry or Michael (who nailed a 4.0 GPA during his freshman year)?
"It's funny, in elementary and middle school Michael struggled a little bit academically, not wanting to do the work, and I was one who did a little bit better in school," recalls Harry.
"But when we got to high school, it was flipped and Michael always was the one going above and beyond. And now it's the same here at Notre Dame. I'm not quite as good as Michael in the academic realm, but I don't think my parents can complain too much."
During the recruiting process over the past few years, the Notre Dame coaching staff naturally developed a close relationship with the Shipp family.
"As a recruit, Harry was an easy admit, but according to his parents, he was the athlete in the family," recalls Notre Dame associate head coach B.J. Craig, chuckling at the memory. "His brother Michael, we were told by the parents, he was the student.
"As coaches, we had to laugh when Harry received a 4.0 semester GPA for his marks. Although Michael had the last laugh when he edged Harry by a point or two last semester [4.0 to 3.97]. Competition brings out the best in Harry, and he will be a success in life far beyond the soccer field."
Shortly after the end of the 2013 spring semester, former Irish standout midfielder Dillon Powers was in a quandary. As one of several recent Notre Dame men's soccer players to graduate in three-and-a-half years, before transitioning directly into his MLS career, Powers still had hoped to attend the May 18 graduation ceremony back on campus.
With the MLS schedule at its midseason fever pitch, Powers still was able to carve out a narrow window, catching an early-morning flight into Chicago on the day of commencement And who was there to pick him up? None other than Harry Shipp, more than willing to transport his former teammate to Notre Dame.
Now, this story does have one wrinkle.
"Apparently, right after Harry dropped me off, he ran out of gas," explains Powers. "The coaches always give Harry a hard time, wondering which Shipp brother is the smartest. So of course they could not resist, telling Harry things like `Michael would never have made that mistake.'
"But, at the end of the day, I owed everything to Harry for that. If not for him, I don't know if I would have made it to graduation on time."
Early Passion for the Beautiful Game
The first time that Harry Shipp ever played a soccer game, as a five-year-old, his interest was piqued and he quickly became hooked (with a boost from one two-hour, Spanish-language broadcast, see below). A year later, as a first-grader, Shipp experienced another epiphany: kids were playing soccer inside, allowing for year-round participation.
That revelation, ultimately, was it. Some kids specialize in a specific sport much later in life. By the time he was 10, and in some cases a couple years earlier, Harry had tossed aside the tennis racket, ditched the basketball and started wearing exclusively soccer cleats (no more baseball spikes for this youngster). It was all soccer, all the time. And he still was in elementary school.
The initial spark was lit after Shipp's first AYSO recreational soccer game, while playing alongside many of his kindergarten classmates. You know the scene: a pack of kids chasing a ball, some easily distracted by their parents in the crowd, or by something in their own nose. Not exactly the Premier League.
While driving home from that first game, Harry began pestering his mom. He knew there had to be something more to this game of soccer - he had an initial inkling that a "beautiful game" existed beyond this amoeba-like pack of five- and six-year olds. And he soon would get an answer to his question, leading to great interest and appreciation.
"Harry was asking me if soccer was ever played on TV, but all I could find was a Mexican League game on satellite," recalls Kathleen Shipp. "He sat and watched it, in Spanish, not understanding a word, except of course I guess `goal,' for the entire 90 minutes."
In later years, as soccer became more accessible on TV, the young Harry Shipp became an avid follower of the Premier League, Barcelona and the Champion's League.
Shipp's second big "lightbulb" moment relative to soccer came while attending a first-grade birthday party that featured a novel activity: indoor soccer.
"Harry came back from that party very excited but also incredulous, amazed that he was only now finding out that you could play soccer all year long," says his still-amazed mother. "Over the next few years, he had begged off all the other sports, except soccer, and a little golf."
The Shipps signed up Harry for an indoor 4x4 league, submitting the paperwork as quickly as possible (no doubt to appease/pipe down their eager oldest child).
"Harry would play in a game, but then other kids wanted him to play on their teams. It kept happening and would morph into hours of consecutive games," adds Kathleen Shipp.
Harry's quick progression within the sport continued, including two trips to Barcelona, Spain (as a nine- and 10-year old) to participate in a soccer camp and tournament, with younger brother Michael tagging along (see photo). Travel soccer earlier had become a way of life for Harry, starting in the second grade. He led several of his teams to tournament titles, including a national championship for the Illinois ODP (Olympic Development Program), and he traveled to Italy and Argentina with two regional ODP teams.
Years later, as a 10th-grader, Shipp joined the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program at its inception, playing two years with the Chicago Magic and then spending his senior year with the Chicago Fire developmental program. That valuable experience with the Fire came with one caveat, requiring a roundtrip drive that often covered three total hours, in order to play the sport he loved and do so at the highest level available at that time.
Home Away From Home
Harry Shipp had plenty of connections to Notre Dame, even before he first stepped foot on the campus. His mother, the former Kathleen Welsh, is a Notre Dame graduate ('82), as is her own father, two of her brothers, her sister and a sister-in-law.
Terry Shipp, Harry's father, has no direct family ties to Notre Dame ... but he has the next best thing. Terry's deceased father, Jack Shipp, can't be explained as anything else than a classic member of the Notre Dame "subway alumni," non-graduates who nonetheless feel a strong affinity to the school they never even attended. Jack Shipp so loved Notre Dame that he named Terry after his favorite player, former Notre Dame quarterback and eventual Irish head coach Terry Brennan.
Kathleen Welsh had been a finance major at Notre Dame and later worked in the banking industry in the Chicago area for 12 years. Terry Shipp graduated from the University of Colorado in 1980 as CU's top undergraduate business student and, for good measure, went on to be the top 4Q MBA student at Northwestern ('82).
Academic Standards & Lessons
Throughout Clark's 12-year tenure at Notre Dame, and in the years under his predecessor Mike Berticelli, the Irish men's soccer team has achieved academic excellence as a group and individually. Over the past 19 years, Notre Dame men's soccer players now have combined to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors 10 times, with Shipp the first repeat honoree (he was named to the second team in 2012). Hodan has his own distinction, as the program's first player to earn Academic All-America honors during his sophomore season.
In addition to being at Academic All-American while at Notre Dame, current U.S. National Team defender Matt Besler was named the 2008 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (still TBA for 2013). Grant Van De Casteele, the team's current fifth-year central defender, was a potential 2013 Academic All-American, after being named the BIG EAST Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year (for all sports) one year earlier. He carries a 3.72 cumulative GPA, as a double major in finance and economics.
When asked to identify his greatest academic influence at Notre Dame, Shipp did not hesitate. The person who has impacted him the most in the academic realm is the same individual who has shaped his life most on the soccer field: Bobby Clark, affectionately known as "Boss" to all of his players, past and present.
"I'm willing to bet that `Boss' does a better job than any other college soccer coach in the country in terms of stressing academics on an everyday basis," declares Shipp, a participant in the Notre Dame Athletics Rosenthal Leadership Academy. "On a fundamental level, he teaches us to use time efficiently and has certain policies, like the first two hours of every road trip are for study hall, with no movies.
"The academic climate within our team and the program gets ingrained within you pretty quickly. It's really second-nature and just as much a part of who we all are as is our soccer playing style."
Clark, who was trained as a teacher in his native Scotland, regularly provides his players with suggestions and tidbits for their academic livelihoods. The longtime coach stresses the importance of forming relationships with teachers early in the semester because, notes Shipp, "a teacher who knows you and understands you is more likely to help you out when you're traveling and having to make up tests and assignments.
"The really effective thing is that `Boss' will bring up these academic reminders in unexpected situations, like right after a big game in the postgame speech. Instead of focusing on the game we just played, he will jar us with reminders about getting ahead in our studies or talking to professors about having to miss a couple days for a trip. You take those message more to heart because you aren't expecting it and it's more impactful."
At the end of the day, Clark's focus on taking care of the little things on the academic side "makes life more fun and less stressful about the soccer - it all helps us play better," adds Shipp.
From his early days at Everett Elementary, Harry Shipp always excelled in the studies of math and science. As a second-grader, he was allowed to move to the back of the classroom and work on his own, completing more advanced math packets.
"Even now, I really enjoy doing math and analytical puzzles, figuring things out for myself," says Shipp. "It's challenging, but fun at the same time."
As this story progresses, you will begin to sense a pattern throughout the arc of Harry Shipp's relatively young life. There are classic anecdotes, stories and memories that provide great glimpses into different stages of his development.
One such phenomena unfolded before Harry's class had even begun learning addition and subtraction. But Terry and Kathlenn Shipp's oldest son already had that stuff mastered, with several little twists.
As Harry's mother tells it, he always was comfortable with numbers well before attending school. He could understand the concept of negative numbers, often blurting out things such as, "Mom, guess what 100 minus 100 minus 100 is? ... And he would answer his own question: "Negative 100."
Young Harry also understood the concept of time, such as the fact that 6:40 and 20 `till 7 were the same (come on, there's adults out there who struggle with that, right?). Eventually, he "even could add three-digit numbers intuitively from left to right, rather than how it is taught in school from right to left," explains Kathleen Shipp.
Harry also showed early signs of having an amazing visual memory, able to watch a soccer or golf event on TV and then accurately imitate the action. After playing in a game, he could precisely recall the jersey numbers of all opposing players and could recant the scores of basketball games months later.
Such advanced memory skills naturally transferred over to his academic pursuits. Tests and homework required little time. The phrase "cramming for an exam" never seems to have been part of Harry Shipp's lexicon.
Remember that Rain Man reference in the introduction to this article? Make a little more sense now?
Harry's mathematical wizardry from a young age even extended to the realm of sports on TV, while watching football games with his father and adding up hypothetical scoring for each team that could yield possible new scores. Anyone who knows Harry now can easily envision it: "Dad, if the Bears score a touchdown and get a safety and then the Vikings get a touchdown but miss the extra point, then it will be 30-29 and the Bears still would win."
It all seems amazing now. Back then, not so much.
"None of these things seemed odd to us at the time, since Harry was our oldest child, until friends started commenting," explains Kathleen Shipp. Formal testing soon revealed that Harry was able to analyze, interpret, store and retrieve data efficiently - so much so that he was placed on a gifted track throughout the rest of elementary school, followed by a slew of AP courses in high school.
High school, it turns out, was "more of a task to be completed than it was academically interesting for Harry," notes his mother. Having committed to Notre Dame in October of his junior year, Shipp's final two years of high school essentially were devoid of much motivation from an academic standpoint.
After years of ho-hum classwork, Harry Shipp headed off to Notre Dame. Would it be more of the same?
"Based on how Harry had excelled in academics since he was a little kid, I was shocked and overjoyed to hear him rattling on about his classes as I was driving him home for Christmas break during his freshman year," says Kathleen Shipp.
"It was the first time he actually seemed interested and challenged academically. Now, he is finishing his last 16 credits and will be graduating in December - hard to believe."
A Background in Business
Despite growing up around his father Terry, a founding partner of the Merit Capital private equity firm based out of Chicago, Harry Shipp never knew much about the inner dealings of the financial world. That is, of course, until he came to Notre Dame and ultimately became a finance major. It's not as if father and son used to crouch over their cereal bowls each morning, chatting about the markets.
"When I came to college, I didn't know what finance exactly met," admits Shipp, whose plan to give engineering a try was diverted by veteran teammates who advised against such an ambitious goal.
"I've had some amazing teachers and taken a series of great courses that have shown me a lot of real-world examples and situations, ones that have opened my eyes to how companies really are run."
Any time a senior has a GPA north of a 3.8, it's always interesting to ask: what's the deal, what went wrong? Over the course of his first six semesters at Notre Dame, Shipp's extended courseload has yielded virtually all As, plus a couple A-minuses and four pesky B-plus grades.
Three of Shipp's non-A grades came during his freshman year, mostly in his "weak spot" of English and writing. Those first-year classes - in Composition, Freshmen Writing Seminar, and Microeconomics - each delivered a B+ grade, as did a sophomore-year class called The Catholic Faith. But Shipp sailed (get it?) through both semesters of his junior year, with nary a B on either report card.
Shipp's most challenging class so far at Notre Dame, although he earned an A, has been Foresight in Business and Society.
"That class was extremely open-ended and forced us to think about sustainability in business on a global level," explains Shipp. "The class involved an extremely large analytical group project and a long paper of our choice. Our group studied the macroeconomic effects on host countries of the World Cup and Summer Olympics, and under what conditions could a country expect to benefit from hosting such an event."
Of course, all students must complete electives outside of their major. Shipp's favorite non-business class is one that he enrolled in largely because its four-credit status allowed him to reach the 16 total credits this semester needed to graduate. Unless you work for the university registrar of have a deep knowledge of the Notre Dame course catalog, we're pretty sure you would never guess what course Harry signed up for.
"I've really enjoyed my Introduction to Portuguese class," reveals Shipp, who conceivably could go to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup or 2016 Summer Olympics and actually have an intelligible conversation with the native speakers.
"Our professor Sandra Teixeira makes class so enjoyable to come to every day. She cares so much about her students and I have frequently seen her in attendance at our soccer games, waving her Brazilian flag in the crowd."
Much as he caught "soccer fever" some 15 years earlier, Shipp got the bug for finance when taking the Introduction to Finance course, taught by well-respected Notre Dame professor Carl Ackermann. One thing you need to know about Ackermann: this is not some teacher with cursory knowledge of sports, who might think that soccer players score "points" or that baseball is controlled by referees.
No, Carl Ackermann is a hard-core soccer fan, having refereed for several years within the old APSL (American Professional Soccer League) but now directing his energies in support of the Notre Dame soccer teams along with his son's Junior Irish squad. It goes without saying that he and Shipp have great appreciation for one another.
"Professor Ackermann has the ability to get his students to have a different approach to finance. Most importantly, he shows his students that you can use finance to really make a difference in the world, beyond just the numbers and calculations," notes Shipp.
When Shipp began attending his intro. class a couple years ago, Ackermann took note that the soccer player selected a second-row seat, squarely in the middle. The sophomore routinely would arrive early for class, with one benefit of course being getting his pick of seats. The professor notes that Shipp never missed a day and was seated in the same location for each of the 30 classes during that semester.
"Some people are eager to look for reasons to criticize athletes in the classroom, but that's not possible with someone like Harry Shipp," explains Ackermann. "He always was attentive throughout each class, and his eyes were directed at me, listening to what I was saying and watching what I was doing.
"There were about 500 students in the class, and he was the only one who exhibited this kind of special behavior and attentiveness. And, oh, by the way - that student in this year's class is none other than his teammate, Patrick Hodan, no surprise as he is the team's other Academic All-American."
Ackermann must know how Shipp's teachers felt during his pre-college days. "I work very hard to make my class a challenging course, but I don't know if it challenged Harry," admits the 15-year Notre Dame faculty veteran. "That's just evidence of how gifted, talented and hard-working he is."
Shipp's favorite business classes also have included one entitled Behavioral Finance, a class that essentially negates, or amends, much of what the students have previously learned.
"That class looks at psychological concepts to show how people choose things and why they do so. It explores case samples where things were not valued correctly and when markets were not perfect," explains Shipp. "On one hand, you may study a financial textbook about choices people might make, but this class presents other external factors that might alter those choices. You come to understands why some choices may not seem rational, but they end up making sense.
"I enjoy doing basic finance stuff, but I actually enjoy more learning about examples when the textbooks are wrong. In the real world, things are not perfect."
Follow the Leader
Whether he realizes it or not, Shipp has been molding Hodan (pictured at right) to follow in his footsteps. The younger Academic All-American and fellow Midwesterner plans to declare his major in finance. But possibly the most telling similarity between Shipp and Hodan can be seen in their awareness level and selflessness.
Consider this anecdotal evidence, provided by Notre Dame's associate head coach:
"Harry not only serves the community off the field, but is a servant leader for his teammates by example," says Craig. "After traveling back from elimination in the ACC tournament, from a game that felt like a defeat, both Harry and Patrick Hodan were found cleaning out the bus while everyone else was inside taking care of things.
"Our top two players in points, both Academic All-Americans, quietly doing the dirty work for the team. It is this humility in life that gives Harry the drive to keep improving as a person and player, influencing our team attitude in everything we do."
Hodan developed his academic skills over the years at St. John Vienney elementary school and Marquette University High School. The son of a lawyer (Patrick, Sr.) and a former nurse, mom Kerry, the Hodan's oldest child has two younger sisters, both athletes: Bridget, a gymnast who will compete next year at the University of Illinois, and Colleen, a 9th-grade track athlete specializing in short distances.
If they are lucky, children can benefit from parents who give them attention on various levels, including academic discourse that often can be disguised as fun games. Such was the case in the Hodan household.
"My parents always have placed an importance on education and my dad often would quiz me on capitals of countries and states. I got to the point where I knew quite a few of them," says Patrick, Jr. "Sitting around the dinner table, my dad would bring up various current events and then suddenly blurt out a question like: `And what's the capital of that country?'
"It was a great way to learn about the world while sharing the education process, even in a small way, with your family."
While primarily preferring math and science coursework during his youth, Hodan also developed an affinity for history and social studies. In fact, one of favorite classes at Notre Dame is non-business related, a history seminar entitled Lincoln in America.
"Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorite historical figures and I've always been interested in politics" says Hodan. "I really enjoyed learning about how Lincoln progressed as a leader and how his childhood affected his politics and his views of slavery. He was very good with his maneuvering and very good tactically with the timing of different aspects of his administration."
Hodan, a product of the FC Milwaukee club program, shouldered a bigger-than-expected load with the Irish as a freshman in 2012, after preseason ACL injuries ended the collegiate careers of veteran flank midfielders Michael Rose and Adam Mena. The sophomore midfielder then took his game to another level this season, after looking to improve directly on his defense and fitness.
One of Hodan's most noteworthy attributes is his ability on the ball, both dribbling and serving, as a natural leftfooted player. One would assume that he would be playing on the left flank rather than the right, and if Hodan indeed was on the right, then certainly the midfielder on the left would be another leftfooter, right?
In actuality, the two midfielders who usually are playing on the left side for the Irish this season are a pair of rightfooted players, senior Leon Brown and Hodan's fellow sophomore Evan Panken. Don't worry, it's by design.
"We have our flank midfielders set up this way so that we can cut into our strong foot, so for me I play on the right but am cutting in with my left," explains Hodan, who writes with his left but throws righthanded. "You are starting to see more teams go with this approach for positioning the flank midfielders, and it has worked well for us."
Traveling On A Different Plane
Several of Shipp's unique character traits, some of them almost "trademark" quality, have been referenced above. When you consider these elements, some of them quirky to be sure, and then take into account even further aspects of his personality, it seems as if ... well, it kind of seems like the guy often is traveling on a different plane than the rest of us.
"One thing I can say about Harry is that he is very comfortable in his own skin, not feeling any need to conform with what is popular or accepted," says Kathleen Shipp, who certainly would qualify as an expert when it comes to her first-born child. "He also operates within a narrow emotional band, never too high or too low.
"In soccer, Harry is competitive and confident for the team, yet unselfish and humble individually. He also has these instincts and a sense of intuition, whether it be in a social setting, academics or sports. Often, he can't tell you exactly why he chose to do something. He just makes decisions and moves on, without second-guessing or regrets."
One such example occurred after Shipp made a verbal commitment to Notre Dame early in his junior year at Lake Forest High School. "After he made that college decision, he was done with it," adds Harry's proud, and articulate we might add, mom. "He is not a shopper and relies more heavily on his own assessments than others. He is not affected by praise, nor does it motivate him."
Shipp's family and teammates alike have come to expect his mismatched socks, bright clashing colors, odd haircuts and ungroomed facial hair. His youngest sister, Sammy, possibly put it best when she said: "Harry is super smart, but he hides it well." Albert Einstein, with that crazy hair and generally disheveled look, would be proud.
Affectionately known by his teammates as a "goofy kid," Shipp truly marches to the beat of his own drummer ... and to his own eclectically diverse music, it would seem. During pregame preparations, he typically listens to the same musical artist throughout that season. A year ago? Taylor Swift. This season? Small Pools. Umm, yes, we also had to look it up.
"Last year it was a mega pop star that he listened to and this year, some fairly random indy-rock band that just released their EP during preseason," laughs junior Vince Cicciarelli, Shipp's fellow frontrunner in Notre Dame's usual 4-4-2 formation.
"But that's Harry for you. He can be all over the place, and yet he's always in control and knows what he is doing, well in advance I might add. He is his own character. It's just crazy to think that this hilarious, goofy kid is one of the best soccer players in the country and also is a genius in the classroom, at the nation's No. 1 business school."
Adds Powers: "You would think with all of Harry's diverse talents and accolades, he would be more uptight and anxious, and a perfectionist. But he just does not emit that vibe, at all."
Even though the current semester almost is over, Shipp's bedroom in his off-campus house looks as if he just moved in. Again, a manifestation of his one-of-a-kind essence.
"Harry likes to call himself a nomad and my nickname for him is The Wanderer," continues Cicciarelli. "He doesn't even have a real bed. It is a futon mattress on the floor, and he has not unpacked any of his stuff. All of his clothes still are in boxes in his room. Sometimes he just goes to the locker room to get ready for the day and will show up wearing nothing but our official team gear, for like four days straight."
When asked to provide some unknown-to-most snippets about his brother, Michael Shipp gladly obliged with these responses about Harry (it's a great start for a David Letterman top-10 list, don't you think?):
Even Carl Ackermann, the soccer-crazed finance professor, has Harry Shipp stories to tell, in particular about that social intuition that Kathleen Schipp mentioned above.
"There will be times I see Harry out around campus and he greets me and we have a little chat," says Ackermann. "Harry always looks you in the eye when talking with you, but he also has high management mastered, in terms of personal interaction, better than most anybody, especially grown adults.
"He always is very friendly and attentive, but he also has this sixth sense to realize when I am out of material, with nothing of substance left to say. Rather than engaging in awkward, somewhat wasteful, small talk, he shakes my hand, says great to see you, and moves on. He knows exactly when to enter and leave a social setting, and I really admire him for that."
A truly complex (yet paradoxically simplistic?) young man indeed, this Harrison Shipp. At one minute, seemingly aloof and scattered. ...
But don't let him fool you.
An Elite Talent
A look into Shipp's actual soccer skill deliberately was pushed to the bottom of this feature profile. After all, highlighting his athletic side when there is so much else, well, that would have been boring. (What? Sports boring? Sacrilege!).
It's safe to assume that Harry Shipp always has been "vertically challenged," officially listed at 5-foot-9 to "tower" over only three of his teammates on a squad of nearly 30. It's not as if he was 5-foot-5 in the third grade and then barely kept growing. It's been a lifelong challenge.
"From an early age, I was able to counteract being undersized by developing the technical aspects of my game," says Shipp, who checked in at only 5-3 and 104 pounds at the end of his 8th-grade year.
"I also was forced to think faster than opponents, because I was much smaller and less athletic. Even when I finally had a growth spurt, growing several inches taller during my sophomore year of high school, it took me quite a long time to get used to the new height."
Six years later, Shipp stands as one of Notre Dame's big men on campus, if not literally than certainly figuratively.
It's interesting to look back at Shipp's soccer resume and discover no significant youth national team experience, beyond the state and regional ODP levels. A player who never has worn any sort of Team USA jersey now finds himself among the most coveted professional prospects in all of collegiate soccer.
Due to having a later birthdate than the majority of his classmates growing up, Shipp's height and development deficiencies were magnified. But late in his high school career and on into college, the playing field leveled out, one way or another.
"At Notre Dame, I've been able to develop by becoming even faster, both physically and mentally," explains Shipp. "The ability to think faster than most of my opponents has propelled me to the success I've had recently."
Craig notes that, "while it is easy to watch Harry's magic on display, what makes him special is his willingness to do the dirty work." Early in Shipp's freshman season, the coaches called him out during a team video session for not pressuring the ball when the Irish did not have possession.
"Harry didn't say much after that critique, but he clearly took it to heart and has proven, ever since that day, to be one of the best pressuring players in the country," adds the Irish associate head coach. "Great players like Harry simply make those around them better, while still having the ability to change a game themselves when the task calls."
Shipp played what amounted to a true reserve role as a freshman, but we need to clarify that the statistic of games started should be thrown out the window when looking back at the 2011 and '12 seasons. It was then that Clark and his staff implemented a brilliant plan, opting to not start Shipp and fellow forward Ryan Finley, before unleashing them on the opponent in the middle of the first half (and for the remainder of the game).
Finley, who had played his first two seasons at Duke, formed a dangerous duo when linking up with Shipp during those two seasons together.
"It's funny, but people may look back at the stats for Ryan and me during those seasons and see we did not start, but we actually ended up playing 70 minutes or so every game," notes Shipp.
"We both would use those first 20 minutes on the bench to observe the opposing defense, and we would devise a plan on how to attack them. Not starting took a little bit of getting used to, but you began to see what a great benefit it was to the team. That experience taught me a lot about patience and accepting my role."
With Shipp's deft passing and on-field anticipation regularly putting Finley into great position, the Duke transfer erupted for 21 goals in 22 games during the 2012 season and was one of three finalists for the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy (national player of the year).
Despite the departure of Finley and dynamic midfielder Powers, who recently was named the MLS 2013 Rookie of the Year, Shipp has only raised his game in his final collegiate season. Such continued high-end success involved making a new connection with Finley's replacement, Cicciarelli, who did not play as a freshman in 2011 and missed all of the '12 season due to an ACL knee injury. Shipp and Cicciarelli gained their first extensive experience playing together during the 2013 spring season, which proved to be a valuable adjustment period.
"Ryan Finley is more of a technical forward and I am more power, using my athleticism to create my own chances," says Cicciarelli. "Harry and I actually did not sync quickly at first and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that Harry is such a unique player. There are not many who do what he does.
"Over time, I could anticipate those littlest touches he uses to evade defenders and I could make my run knowing what sort of pass he had in the back of his mind. Once I got a handle on playing with Harry midway though the spring, it was pretty awesome because he makes my job a lot easier."
Shipp's brilliance involves many elements that don't show up in the boxscore. There's the non-stop work rate, in soccer parlance known as whistle-to-whistle intensity. There's the sparkplug effect that ignites the Notre Dame offense, becoming contagious as it spreads to the rest of the team. And then there's the pure technical skill on the ball, aptly called "witty playmaking" by many of his teammates, who in the past dubbed him "Scooter," as he would seemingly glide around the field while never losing his dribble.
Realizing that the more casual soccer fans, or those regulated to Sport Center highlights, likely would not fully appreciate Shipp's excellence on the field, Cicciarelli drew a bold comparison, one that does a great job clearing the view.
"For a non-soccer person, if you see Lionel Messi's highlights, the way he is so shifty and crafty, doing things no one would ever predict. Well, Harrison Shipp is the U.S. college version of a player like Messi," proclaims Cicciarelli. "You even could relate Harry to a great point guard in basketball, like Steve Nash in his prime."
(Probably no coincidence, but Nash is a huge soccer fan and was a regular at collegiate soccer games during his career at Santa Clara University.)
Cicciarelli is quick to add that Messi checks in "at only 5-5 or 5-6, 145 pounds, but he is widely considered the best player in the world right now. Harry has that quickness and magical touch with the ball, so size and athleticism doesn't really matter, because no one else has that skill."
Prime Professional Prospect
Although the 2014 MLS Super Draft (Jan. 16) still is several weeks away - and, ostensibly, Shipp may not even be part of the draft as a potential homegrown-product designation to the Chicago Fire - there have been several projections that rank Shipp as a top-5 prospect among collegians who are set to enter the MLS.
2013 Notre Dame captains (from left) Andrew O'Malley, Grant Van DeCasteele and Harrison Shipp all are rated among collegiate soccer's top prospects for 2014 entry into the MLS.
Shipp has been included on that short list of top MLS prospects, alongside the like of fellow forwards Patrick Mullins (Maryland) and Steve Neumann (Georgetown), defenders Steve Birnbaum (Univ. of California) and Kyle Venter (New Mexico), and midfielders Pedro Ribeiro (Coastal Carolina) and Jared Watts (Wake Forest). As a team, Notre Dame joined its upcoming opponent Wake Forest in each featuring five different players (most from any team) on a top-100 list of prospects for the 2014 MLS Super Draft (per TopDrawerSoccer.com). Other Irish players on that list include the aforementioned center back Van DeCasteele in the top-25, right back Luke Mishu on the fringe of the top-50, and two others (center back Andrew O'Malley and forward/midfielder Brown) also listed among the top-100.
Sunday's NCAA round-of-16 game at Alumni Stadium likely will see Shipp doing battle against WFU's Watts, generally considered the top defensive midfielder in collegiate soccer today.
Every college sport annually features players who are elite-level talents on the collegiate level but do not project to a similar status on the professional stage. Shipp, despite his diminutive stature, does not appear to be such a "limited ceiling" talent.
"Some people might knock Harry's size, but I don't see that being an issue," says Powers, who estimates that he has watched 80 percent of the Notre Dame men's soccer games this season online.
"Harry will adapt to the pro game really quickly and is going to have a lot of success in the MLS, because he is a smart player. "Harry can really unlock defenses, and that is what teams will be looking for. I watched some of the Notre Dame games this season with some of my Rapids teammates, and they were pretty impressed with Harry and the way he plays the game. I've never had a connection with any other teammate like I had with Harry. It's been great watching him somehow take it to another level this season - he has a hunger to get on the ball, make plays and will the team to a win."
Anyone who saw the movie A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe as Nobel Laureate John Nash, can remember the main character's ability to observe a real-like situation and rearrange it spatially, shifting various objects through a series of anticipated movements.
While clearly not on John Nash's level, Shipp has shown the ability to use his deeply analytical mind when approaching the game of soccer - a unique skill that could further aid his transition into the professional game.
"Harry's analytical mind definitely helps him on the soccer field, as he can see shapes and patterns developing as if he is viewing the game from above," explains Kathleen Shipp, in another example of her motherly clarity.
(Financial) Planning for the Future
When Shipp's playing career is over, possibly 10 or so years down the line, he likely will pursue a career in the financial sector, hearkening back to the many lessons he has learned as an undergraduate at Notre Dame.
Shipp recently asked Ackermann if they could meet to discuss Harry's opportunities and prospects for the future. Knowing that such a meeting would entail a lot of detail, the professor suggested they block out an hour ... but Harry felt if could be done in half that time (sort of like the old Name That Tune gameshow - "We can do this meeting in 60 minutes" ... "I say we can do it in 30").
It turns out, Harry was dead-on.
"I could not believe how much ground we covered in half an hour, basically in half the time it would gave taken with another even strong student," recalls Ackermann. "Harry had done his research coming in and had very pointed and directed questions. We would quickly shut off certain avenues and pursue others he was interested in.
"The sky is the limit for Harry. Like many athletes, he likely will reach his true calling and potential later in life, when things slow down a bit. But with his tremendous leadership and time management skills, imagine all that energy and focus devoted for a single profession. All I can say is, look out when Harry Shipp bursts on the scene."
Ackermann notes that Notre Dame finance majors, like all students in the Mendoza College of Business, are required to take a Business Ethics course. Many of the specific finance classes, including his own, stress to their students that the finance industry can help those in need - essentially, that it can encompass more than simple wealth creation and management.
"The Business Ethics classes, often taught by priests, help our students appreciate the potential ethical dilemmas they could face later in their business careers," says Ackermann. "With many of the recent major corporate controversies, it often would have taken only one person in the room to stand up and ask, `Are we comfortable with this?'
"Our charge to our students is to be that person preventing some future corporate scandal. Someone like Harry Shipp clearly would be that guy, waiting for the right time and speaking his mind, and people would really take notice. His words always are well-chosen, meaningful and impactful."
Little Things ... Leading to Big Things
With the sand slipping through the hourglass of his college career, Shipp remains grateful for the special experience afforded him.
"The most important thing that Notre Dame has given me is a greater passion for things I do," says Shipp. "Beginning freshmen year, I was genuinely interested in the subjects that I had chosen and I love coming to practice every day, even more now than ever. Everyone associated with the program puts such an emphasis on growth and development, that it's impossible not to get excited every day. There is a special level of trust and mutual respect amongst the team and coaches.
"I also believe that a very strong focus on `the little things' has been such a crucial part to my growth here at Notre Dame. An example of this would be after a tough overtime game, rather than going on and on about how proud he was of us, our coach instead would talk about how to already prepare for the next game and then to make sure we leave the visitors' locker room even cleaner than when we first arrived."
Such "little things" over the years also have included treating the team's bus drivers and other support personnel as if they were part of the coaching staff. "It's all about `who we are, where we are, and what we represent' whenever we are traveling or making public appearances," concludes Shipp. "It is for these life lessons that I am most grateful towards Notre Dame and our soccer program."
So speaketh the Wondering Wizard of Notre Dame men's soccer.