Mike Hardy couldn’t be happier.
After missing most of the last three seasons of university basketball with concussions, he has been symptom free for a year and cleared to return to action.
The 21-year-old suited up in the Courtside Sneakers Spring Basketball League and will wear the Holland College Hurricanes uniform this fall.
“You don’t know how much you miss it until it’s gone,” Hardy said. “I relish every opportunity now. It’s the NBA finals to me every time I step out there.”
Hardy grew up playing basketball in Summerside and learned to play one way: full-out effort all the time. He was recruited by a few schools after graduating from Three Oaks Senior High in 2008 but decided to attend the University of Prince Edward Island.
He took a hit in practice early that fall that changed his life.
“I was concussed and came back too fast and took another one pretty much right after that,” he said.
Hardy suffered three more concussions in the next two seasons and sat out this year. He stayed with the Panthers as a student trainer because basketball was such an integral part of his life. Not being able to play was frustrating for a guy who wanted to be on the court so bad.
“I told myself at the end of the year if there was a chance of playing basketball I needed to do it,” he said. “At this point I have to get back into the game. I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.”
Hardy admits there were some dark days while he was at UPEI and knows there are risks with returning to the court.
“It’s always something I think about,” he said. “I am still young. I don’t want to let it define me.”
UPEI coach Tim Kendrick is pleased Hardy has been cleared to play.
“He’s a very positive kid with a good work ethic. I think Holland College is getting a real good player and an even better young man,” he said.
With a science degree with a major in biology and a minor in environmental studies under his belt, Hardy will be studying to become a personal trainer at Holland College.
Playing at Holland College will also provide Hardy an opportunity to play with his older brother Steve, who is returning to the Hurricanes after travelling the past two years. The two played one season together at Three Oaks.
“It’s going to be great,” Mike said, rattling off a few other players who have committed to the program.
“They’re great guys and they come into work every day. They don’t complain. They’re happy to be there and that’s the kind of players I want to play with.”
Mike Hardy At A Glance:
u Age - 21
u Hometown - Summerside
u Sport - Basketball
u Style Of Play - “I am big (six-foot-five) but I can also step out and shoot the ball and break guys down off the bounce.”
u The Latest - After dealing with concussions for his four seasons at UPEI he has been cleared to play at Holland College this fall.