"I am dedicated to building a championship program at the University of South Carolina," Harris said. "The Gamecock women's golf team is committed to achieving short-game and scoring game excellence, and our much of our practice time reflects this goal. I also place a strong emphasis on building individual relationships and finding what motivates players on an individual level. I focus on individual skill development within a competitive, supportive team environment. I bring intensity to practices and training, while also creating a structure that allows players to lead a balanced life as a student-athlete." - Kalen Harris
Kalen Harris enters her eighth year as the head coach of the South Carolina women's golf team on the heels of five straight NCAA Championship appearances.
South Carolina tabbed Harris to mentor its program in January 2008. She joined the Gamecocks after two years as an assistant at Duke, where she had an All-American career as a player, and a four-year stint as a professional on the FUTURES Tour.
Her philosophy on coaching has led to immediate success for the Carolina program.
"I am dedicated to building a championship program at the University of South Carolina," Harris said. "The Gamecock women's golf team is committed to achieving short-game and scoring game excellence, and our much of our practice time reflects this goal. I also place a strong emphasis on building individual relationships and finding what motivates players on an individual level. I focus on individual skill development within a competitive, supportive team environment. I bring intensity to practices and training, while also creating a structure that allows players to lead a balanced life as a student-athlete."
In seven seasons at South Carolina, Harris has overseen a seamless, successful transition from the previous coaching staff, highlighted by the program's first regional title at the 2010 NCAA East Regional. In addition, four players have earned All-America accolades, which is double the number of All-Americans in program history prior to her arrival. Two of those four players were tabbed All-Americans in 2014, marking the first time two Gamecocks were named All-Americans in the same season.
Under Harris, the Gamecocks have won two NCAA East Regional titles (2010, 2012) and have advanced to six NCAA Championships in seven seasons; the program had appeared in the NCAA Championship a total of eight times since 1980 before her arrival in 2008.
Last season was undoubtedly one of the most successful seasons in program history. Harris led the Gamecocks to nine consecutive top-five finishes, including two tournament titles. South Carolina made their fifth-straight NCAA Championship appearance and was one of only seven teams to compete in the last five national championships. The Gamecocks appeared in their 16th consecutive NCAA Regional and turned in a second place finish. South Carolina made a charge at the SEC Championship and finished in second, marking the program's highest finish since winning the event in 2002. Three Gamecocks earned All-SEC honors after the 2013-14 campaign and two of those golfers were also named All-Americans.
During the 2012-13 season, Harris and the Gamecocks didn't let the loss of two key pieces to the line up slow down the program's success. South Carolina finished in third place at the SEC Championship and then carried that momentum to the NCAA West Regional, where they finished fourth and secured a berth to the NCAA Championship.
In 2011-12 Harris guided the Gamecocks to new heights as South Carolina claimed the 2012 NCAA East Regional title in State College, Pa., and went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Championship in Franklin, Tenn., which is the best finish in program history at the national championship. Katie Burnett led the way with a fifth-place showing, the best ever by a Gamecock at the event. Burnett wrapped up her career with a scoring average of 74.18, which ranks first all-time at South Carolina, as she earned second team All-America honors from both Golfweek and the National Golf Coaches Association.
What was thought to be a rebuilding year in 2011 - one junior, two sophomores and three freshmen comprised the entire Carolina roster - turned into unforeseen success as the Gamecocks battled through being shipped to the West Coast for their NCAA Regional to finish in sixth place and earn their third NCAA Championship berth in four years. Suzie Lee and Samantha Swinehart led the charge at the West Regional in Auburn, Wash., tying for 15th place after battling through cold, wind and rain for three days. The team would finish in 18th place at the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas, setting the stage for what could be a very strong 2011-12 campaign.
The 2010 season was a banner year for Harris and the Gamecocks, capped by the team's second NCAA Championship appearance in three years where they earned a tie for 14th place. This followed Burnett's and the Gamecocks' triumph at the NCAA East Regional in Greenville, N.C., where Burnett earned medalist honors in leading Carolina to its first regional title.
In 2009, her first full season at Carolina, the team grew together as the season progressed and earned a spot in the NCAA East Regional in Gainesville, Fla. Highlighting the year was Benedicte Toumpsin's tie for medalist honors at the LSU Golf Classic and the emergence of a freshman star in Burnett.
Her first season in 2008, Harris guided the Gamecocks into the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2003. Team leader Toumpsin earned third-team All-America status from Golfweek and an honorable mention All-America nod from the National Golf Coaches Association, becoming South Carolina's first All-American since Kristy McPherson earned the honor for the third time in her career in 2003. Harris joined the staff of Duke's Hall of Fame head coach Dan Brooks in the spring of 2006 and helped the Blue Devils to their second-straight national title. Duke went on to add a third title in 2007. Duke also claimed back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference championships in her time on staff. Harris was the designated coach during several tournaments and saw four Blue Devils earn All-America status in 2006, including three first-team selections.
"In coaching, we work on skills and techniques during practice, so when we get to tournament play, my major role is to help players keep a positive attitude and stay in the right frame of mind to let their hard work and talent shine," Harris said. "In addition to being a resource to help players make smart decisions during competition, I like to use humor to keep them loose while also pushing them toward productivity."
"I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be mentored by Coach Brooks and be part of an elite program both as a player and a coach," Harris said. "My many experiences at Duke have taught me how to keep players motivated, excited about golf and focused on attaining their goals. I will draw on that experience to help build South Carolina women's golf into a championship program."
Prior to her start in coaching, Harris played golf professionally from 2001 through 2005. She played a total of 56 events on the FUTURES Tour, recording her best finish at the 2002 Florida Hospital FUTURES Golf Classic in SeBring, Fla., where she tied for fourth. Harris also participated in four LPGA Qualifying Schools and played in the 2000 U.S. Women's Open. While playing, she also worked to network and generate sponsorships to support her career, raising $120,000 of capital.
Harris kicked off her college career by earning Atlantic Coast Conference co-Rookie of the Year honors in 1998. Playing in the NCAA Championship all four years of her career, she helped the Blue Devils to their first national title in 1999, finishing 12th in the individual standings. She captured All-ACC and Academic All-America honors that year, a feat she would repeat over the remaining two years of her career. With the nation's top-rated total short game in 2000, Harris picked up second-team All-America status. Finishing ninth in the NCAA Regional in 2000, she was the Blue Devils' top finisher at the NCAA Championship, claiming 21st place. In all, Harris collected 16 top-10 finishes in her career, including the individual title in the 2001 Liz Murphey Intercollegiate.
A native of Edina, Minn., Harris earned her bachelor's degree in psychology with a certificate in markets and management from Duke in 2001. She is married to Deuce Harris of Durham, N.C., a former wrestler at Duke University.
The Harris FileCoaching Career
2008-present: Head Coach, University of South Carolina
2006-07: Assistant Coach, Duke University