Saturday, February 28, 2015

Natalie Hardin Becomes 4th HCA Athlete to be Named "Star Athlete of the Week"

For 17-year-old Harrells Christian Academy senior Natalie Hardin, sports is something that she has loved to play for years.

“I like all sports,” the three-sport (basketball, soccer and volleyball) Crusader star said Wednesday. “I am currently playing basketball (at point guard) and we have really gelled this season ... we are really close.”

The team, coached by Wayne Cannady, played in the state playoffs during one of the coldest weeks in Sampson County in the last decade.

“It is exciting to be 16-4 right now,” she said. “We lost a lot of our seniors coming into this year and no one really expected us to play this well because we basically have a whole new starting line-up. We are very close as a team and everyone is working hard and having a good time.”

When told she has been named this week’s Performance Auto/Sampson Weekly Star Athlete of the Week, Hardin said she was stunned.

“I ... really ... I am just really surprised by this,” she said. “I really didn’t even know I was nominated for this. I will tell you, it makes me feel pretty good to know that someone is looking out for me and thinking that I am worthy of this award.”

Hardin, who lives in Elizabethtown with her parents, Wilt and Tracy, as well as two younger sisters, Ashley and Heather, said she transferred to Harrells just two years ago.

“To be honest, it has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she admitted. “As soon as I came here
to Harrells, the people here made me feel like I have been here for years. You know, you see the teachers here sacrificing their time to help students, including me. They come in early and stay late to help you ... the coaches here do the same. When you have supportive people like that around you, it helps you grow, not just as a player, but as a person as well.”

Which is why her final year at Harrells will be bittersweet.

“I feel like I am going to do well,” she said. “But I know that I am going to miss my family (when I am away at college) and that makes me feel sad. I am going to miss my Harrells family too. We are all really close- knit at this school and I love being around everyone here because everyone has been so good to me. I am going to miss my close friends and I know that we will be friends forever, but we will be going our separate ways and will never be as close as we are now ... that is going to be sad. I am going to try and do what my mother told me, to just enjoy everything that I can in these final months.”

Hardin began playing recreational sports when she was about 4-years-old. “I played recreation ball and then played in middle school as well,” she explained. “In volleyball I played outside hitter; in basketball I play point guard, and in soccer, I play midfielder. If I had to pick a favorite, I would say it would be soccer.”

Why soccer?

“I don’t know why, really,” she admits. “I think because it just comes natural to me to play soccer. I have to work hard to play basketball and volleyball. I have always loved to play soccer because it just comes
naturally to me.”

Hardin is also working hard in the classroom. The straight ‘A’ student says she wants to go to college.
“Right now, I am undecided on what college I want to go to,” she admits, “but I want to double major in media/communications and Spanish. I like to talk to people and I would love to get into sports broadcasting at some point.”

Despite her talent in three-sports, Hardin said that she wants to concentrate on her studies while at college.
“I will stay active,” she explains, “I will probably get involved with intramural athletics while I am there. But really I want to focus on my studies while I am there.”

In 10 years, Hardin said her dream is that she hopes to have a successful career and to be happy.
“I want to be financially stable,” she said. “I hope that I will have a family by then too ... I just really hope that whatever I am doing, I have a happy home.”

She continues, “My parents instilled a great work ethic in me and I think playing sports helps because you have to work hard and when you are out there, you have to do it. You have to work hard to do well in life ... My mother has always told me to just go out there and be the best that you can be. That is all you can do.”

For right now, she is doing just that.

Although she doesn’t get much free time - with school, practices, games and homework- Hardin averages about 15 hour days working and practicing.

“I have long days,” she says with a laugh. “I put in a lot of work ... But when I do get free time, which is very rare, I like to hang out with my friends ... but to be honest, I really don’t have a lot of free time.”

When asked if she has any advice for any upcoming student/athletes, Hardin said she has some really good advice. “You have to be confident in yourself. You have to remember that just because you are a freshman or you are younger, you are just as important as anyone else and you have every right to be where you are. You just have to believe in yourself.”

Hardin said that all of her successes can be attributed to the people who have surrounded her with their love and support.

“My mom and dad have always been there for me,” she said. “All of my family members have been there for me and I just want to thank them all for that. I would like to thank all of my coaches who took the time with me to push me to do well. Especially Mr. Cannady for believing in me and taking the time to help me and guide me into being a better player and person.” 

All credit for this article goes to the Sampson Weekly

Other Crusader Athletes to be named the Sampson Weekly Performance Auto Star Athlete of the Week include OH Rouse, Ashley Usher, and Andrew Miller

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