The first time Harry Shipp tried to play soccer, he had no idea what was happening.
Of course, he was only 5 years old at the time. Curious to learn more, he asked his mom about soccer, and she flipped through the television channels until she found a game.
Shipp was riveted.
“My mom claims that I sat there for 90 minutes and didn’t blink,” he said.
It didn’t matter that the announcers were speaking Spanish and the players were unfamiliar. All Shipp knew was that soccer was a beautiful and fascinating game.
All these years later, Shipp remains fixated on the game that has been very good to him. After starring at Lake Forest and leading Notre Dame to the 2013 NCAA championship, Shipp turned professional and signed a contract with the hometown Chicago Fire.
It didn’t take him long to make an impact.
In his eighth match, Shipp scored three goals and had one assist to propel the Fire to a 5-4 victory over the New York Red Bulls on May 10. Shipp became just the fourth MLS rookie to record a hat trick. Interestingly, Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips also scored three goals, making it the first match in MLS history where two players recorded a hat trick in the same match.
Shipp had three goals and four assists in nine matches through May 18.
“From the start, he came in with a lot of self-confidence,” teammate Jeff Larentowicz said. “When he gets on the field, he’s not frightened or intimidated. He’s determined to have success.”
Shipp, who played for the Chicago Fire’s youth soccer club growing up, still finds it hard to believe where his soccer journey has taken him.
“I have pictures with Fire players when I was younger and here I am back in the city that my family lives in playing before [hometown] fans,” he said. “It’s been pretty special.”
Before he was a college star and professional, Shipp played high school soccer for the Scouts.
“I played club with the same guys throughout the year so it was nice to play for a couple of months with the guys that I grew up with,” he said.
One of those guys was his younger brother Michael, who is now a sophomore defender for Notre Dame.
At Notre Dame, Harry Shipp capped his career by being named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the NCAA Tournament. He was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, the top individual honor in collegiate soccer. In the classroom, he compiled close to a 4.0 GPA and graduated with a degree in finance.
No wonder then that Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark told reporters that Shipp is, “the perfect example of what a Notre Dame student-athlete is about.”
Individual accolades are nice, but by far the biggest highlight for Shipp was helping the Fighting Irish win the 2013 NCAA title.
“It was the hardest-working group of guys I’ve been associated with,” he said.
One of his prized possessions is a photo of him and his brother that was taken shortly after the championship match.
“We’re wearing our national championship shirts and holding the trophy,” he said. “It’s something we’ll never forget.”
Now, Shipp is focused on making new memories as a professional. Judging by that hat trick, he’s off to a pretty good start.