Rori Harmon, a petite Texas Longhorns point guard, transforms into a top athlete through rigorous training, overcoming skepticism and injury.
In the world of college basketball, transformation and grit often mark the journey of young athletes, and Rori Harmon of the Texas Longhorns is no exception. Harmon, a 5-foot, 6-inch point guard, entered the University of Texas in 2021 with high expectations and a nickname that highlighted her youth and size: “Fetus.” Despite her petite stature, which initially raised eyebrows among the coaching staff, Harmon’s skills and determination quickly dispelled any doubts.
As the biggest recruit of Coach Vic Schaefer’s early tenure at Texas, Harmon’s arrival was met with skepticism by Longhorns’ sports performance coach Zack Zillner. Her size seemed at odds with the typical image of a Division I, future All-American point guard. However, Harmon’s on-court performance and responsiveness to coaching swiftly changed Zillner’s perspective.
Harmon’s freshman year was a period of intense physical development. Working closely with Texas’ Olympics sports dietician Samantha Partida, the focus was on enhancing her durability without compromising agility and speed. The balance between building muscle mass and maintaining quickness on the court was crucial. Her regimen included meticulous attention to diet, hydration, sleep and strength training.
“There wasn’t a perfect number we were reaching for, there wasn’t this perfect pounds of muscle mass for her,” Partida said, via Chantel Jennings of The Athletic. “It was: Let’s check in make sure that you’re still fast on the floor, make sure you’re still agile, make sure you’re still able to perform as a point guard, and then see if we can push it even further.”
This rigorous process, however, did not come without challenges. Harmon faced a foot injury at the beginning of her sophomore year, which required her to adapt her training to focus more on strength.
Incorporating ‘Recov-Rori time’
By her junior year, Harmon, an applied movement science major, shifted her approach from adding bulk to refining her physical capabilities. This holistic approach extended beyond the court, incorporating specific dietary adjustments and proactive recovery routines, or “Recov-Rori time” as dubbed by the staff.
Harmon’s transformation is evident in her improvements in the weight room, where she has increased her bench press, squat, and deadlift numbers, and decreased her mile time. These physical enhancements have translated to her on-court performance, making her faster and more resilient.
“I feel like a different person now,” Harmon said. ““I was fast in the past … But you almost feel like you can turn faster, your angles are sharper. I’m not using extra movements — that’s another thing of trying to preserve energy.”
As the Longhorns embarked on an 8-0 start to the season, Harmon’s stats reflect her all-around proficiency. She’s the only power conference player averaging at least 10 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals per game. Her assist-to-turnover ratio is also exceptional.
She will be looking to lead the Longhorns to victory on Sunday, when they take on No. 11 UConn.