Before her junior year in high school, Amy Harrison couldn't point out Knoxville on a map, let alone the state of Tennessee.
Blushing ever so slightly, the Lady Vols soccer senior captain pleaded her case.
"Not Knoxville, no way," she said with a laugh. "I'm pretty good with the U.S. I may have been able to point out Tennessee, maybe. But how was I supposed to know?"
Growing up 1,398 miles from the University of Tennessee's campus, the Winnipeg native has a fairly decent excuse for her geographical gaffe.
But what turned Knoxville from a once-unidentifiable territory to Harrison's home for the past four years?
Again, she chuckled.
"An email," she said.
Shortly after competing in a soccer tournament in Toronto, Harrison received an email asking her to visit the Knoxville-based campus – a 24-hour drive.
Immediately forwarding the message to her parents because
they liked to "take care of that stuff," the research began.
And research was certainly needed.
"People up in Canada don't always know about all the schools down here," Harrison said. "At the time the school I liked most was North Carolina. Simply because Mia Hamm went there and everyone knew about it."
But Harrison found enough during her investigation to decide to make the long haul to Tennessee.
According to the midfielder, the rest is history.
"When I got there all I could think was 'Oh my gosh.' I had never seen anything like it," She said. "I absolutely fell in love with it."
Fast forward six years, with senior day front and center (7 p.m. today against Georgia), the Lady Vols' second-leading scorer feels like it was just yesterday when she sat down with her parents to make a pros and cons list in one of her school notebooks following her first visit to Rocky Top.
"We legit sat down and made a list," Harrison said. "But we all knew that I didn't need to go visit anywhere else."
Harrison said it has been all "pros" since.
"I loved it on my visit," she said. "And once I got here I loved it even more."
Other than getting used to being teased for calling a garbage disposal a "garborator" and saying "about" with an unmistakable Canadian twang, Harrison had little adjusting to do on the field. She earned SEC All-Freshman honors after leading the Lady Vols in assists.
Unable to tab her favorite memory while wearing orange, Harrison is stunned how fast her college career has come and gone but believes the best has yet to come.
"I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else in the world," Harrison said. "All the memories. But I'd say my favorite memory has yet to happen, we still have so much we want to accomplish."
Expecting a rowdy, pink-clad crowd for the Lady Vols senior night/pink goal match in support of breast cancer awareness month, Harrison, alongside seniors Kylie Bono, Ali Hall, Alexis Owens and R.B. Wyatt are looking to send UT into the SEC tournament on a winning note.
"We know the crowd will be fun," Harrison said.
While the crowd will be sporting a color other than orange and while it will be her last regular-season game at Regal Stadium, one thing will remain the same for Harrison.
She expects to look up in the crowd and find her parents, Ian and Wendy, who will board a flight in Winnipeg, have a layover in Chicago, and land in Knoxville like they have for every home weekend but two this year.
"It has been the time of my life," Harrison said. "A second home."
Riley Blevins is a freelance contributor.