From a very young age, siblings Harrison and Genevieve McCormick, both standouts for the Episcopal Academy tennis team, vividly remember hearing their maternal grandfather, Michael H. Harrison regale about his time spent serving the United States in the Air Force.
Immersed into a military background due to their paternal grandfather Daniel McCormick serving in the marines; their maternal grandfather and uncle, Michael H. Harrison and Mike Harrison, serving in the Air Force it came as no surprise when Harrison and Genevieve decided at a young age that he wanted to attend a military academy.
“I think my grandfather serving in the Air Force played a large part in my decision to attend a military academy,” Harrison said. “He talked about the amazing people that he met and the atmosphere of the military and I decided that I wanted to be able to have a similar experience to enjoy and learn from.”
Genevieve added, “Since a young age, I was surrounded with the idea of the military. My biggest role model, my maternal grandfather, served in the Air Force. My paternal grandfather was a Marine. My uncle also served in the Air Force. Frankly, I could not imagine myself pursuing a different path.’
With uncle Mike Harrison residing in Annapolis, Md., thoughts of attending the United State Naval Academy quickly became prevalent. However, in the middle of Harrison’s junior year at EA, the tennis coach at West Point reached out gauging his interest in attending the United State Military Academy (Army).
Figuring it couldn’t hurt to visit, Harrison went to West Point in the fall of his senior year and enjoyed the setting and a few weeks later made his official commitment to the Black Knights.
Being surrounded by the idea of military from a young age, Genevieve began to gain a sense that attending any college other than a military academy did not seem right. The idea of attending Army quickly arose following her brother’s decision in 2012.
Still unsure of what academy she would attend, Genevieve made her decision upon her first visit to see her brother at West Point.
Genevieve said, “The people I met, and continue to meet, during my visits over the past few years are truly inspiring and I cannot wait to surround myself with these figures on a daily basis. I believe I will make incredible bonds with my classmates and teammates because we will all be going through very difficult situations together. West Point will afford me unparalleled opportunities and I cannot wait to take full advantage of everything I can over the next four years.’
While most athletes are introduced into the sport they eventually pursue by parents who played during their scholastic days, this was not the case for the McCormick children.
Harrison’s introduction to tennis came while he was clothes shopping in a sporting goods store with his parents. While in the store Harrison drifted into the sports equipment department where he began fiddling with a racquet and a ball.
Seeing how happy he was, his parents decided to purchase the racquet. From there his sense of duty and responsibility as an older brother took over as Harrison became consumed with the sport.
Since his parents did not play, Harrison had natural hitting partners in his younger sister Genevieve and younger brother Tristan that he dragged along to play.
Although each one of the three siblings have the same drive and determination, Genevieve and Tristan offered unique abilities on the court that helped one another improve.
As the trio continued to grow so did their passion and success on the court. Although tennis can be viewed as individualistic, playing for your school is very much a team sport and when each one joined EA’s tennis team they embraced that ‘ team philosophy’
“What is consistent throughout each one of them is their sense of team and responsibility to the team,’ said Whitaker Powell, who is the EA head girls tennis coach assistant boys tennis coach. “They recognized that in order to be successful, the team had to win, not just their match.’
Genevieve said, “Since a very young age, I have learned to fight through tough situations alone. Junior tennis forbids outside support from parents and coaches during matches. The most important skill one harnesses during junior tennis is individual strength and motivation. You learn to create your own goals because there isn’t a team behind you that encourages you to meet these high standards. It is easy to lose sight of what you want. Though I have learned to appreciate and challenge this mental struggle, nothing compares to playing beside your teammates. They give me comfort. We feed off each other’s energy. There are still low points, but the spontaneous outbursts of positive cheers always bring us back to our best levels. I can honestly say that this was my favorite team thus far. Every teammate was a key player in each other’s lives both on and off the court. These girls will forever be in my heart and I cannot thank them enough for showing me, and our fans, what it means to be a team. I wish them all the best in the seasons to come.’
EA definitely helped me prepare for West Point, especially from an academic standpoint,’ added Harrison. “I was prepared and used to planning ahead and managing my academic schedule, which has definitely come in handy during my time thus far. My high school coaches, Whit Powell and Tim Kent, also played a huge role in my development as a player and more importantly, as a leader.’
As Harrison prepares for his final year and Genevieve prepares for her plebe year, it will mark the first time the two are together since their time at Episcopal Academy. While the two left their mark on the EA campus, they are in prime position to do the same at West Point.
Powell said, “I’m so incredibly proud of them and respect them so much. Teammate and classmate alike revere them. Despite being ultra driven and passionate about tennis, they were/are as engaged in the daily life of our school as anyone. As our head of school TJ Locke said after Genevieve’s spirit day chapel speech, “I’m glad she’s on my team.’ I’m glad the McCormick’s are on our country’s team!