Rookie Sarah Hardiman had her heart set on playing soccer for the Holland College Hurricanes in Charlottetown, P.E.I., but a knee injury almost ended the St. John’s native’s first college season before it began.
Hardiman, while playing in the St. John’s intermediate women’s league with Murph’s Girls, damaged her cartilage in a collision with a goalkeeper in the last game of the season — three days before she was set to go to P.E.I.
“I was told by a doctor here (in St. John’s) that I wouldn’t be able to get on the field for three weeks and that completely crushed me,” said Hardiman, “but when I got (to Holland College), they said they’d give me a chance to heal and prove myself.”
When she arrived at Holland College in late August, all she could do was sit and watch during training sessions for the first two weeks.
Despite the injury, Hardiman got to play in the Hurricanes’ first two games of the season.
Once she got a chance to play, it didn’t take long for her to impress Holland College coach Meredith Cameron.
“I had no idea where she would fit in,” admitted Cameron. “I had no indication as to her technical or tactical abilities.”
And not being able to train didn’t help Hardiman’s chances of making the squad.
“Sarah began training earlier than she probably should have,” noted Cameron, “but that was the first indication of her dedication and commitment.
“We immediately knew Sarah would be a strong addition to the team after her first league game,” the Hurricanes coach said.
Hardiman took a four-game break after playing the first two matches to rest her sore knee.
It still bothers her, although she expects to be fully fit by next summer when she anticipates a return in the St. John’s league.
“I have to do some physio after Christmas and continue to wear a knee brace,” she noted.
A natural striker, Hardiman who scored 21 goals for Murph’s Girls this season, started at forward with the Hurricane, but upon returning to action after her four-game break, she was asked to play other positions when the team ran into injury trouble.
Hardiman's coach appreciated her versatility and willingness to play anywhere the team needed her.
“Her tenacity and work ethic was outstanding and she was pleasure to coach,” said Cameron. “She did anything I asked of her. She played striker, wing, mid-field and fullback when we were in need.”
“Sarah is probably one of the most fearless players in the ACAA,” said coach Cameron.
“She tackles at every opportunity and continually has sacrificed herself for her teammates. She was an integral part of the success the Hurricanes saw this season and she will surely help set the bar for her teammates in the seasons to come.”
The Hurricanes, whose roster also includes Deer Lake’s Katelin Burridge, won the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association (ACAA) championship after posting an 8-2-2 regular season and then went on to compete in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) championships in Edmonton where the team was given the Fair Play Award.
Hardiman decided on Holland College after a brilliant three years in high school, winning the Bishop Barons’ most valuable player award in basketball three straight years and was chosen the soccer MVP twice while graduating with honours. She decided to focus strictly on soccer at Holland.
The five-foot-two, 115-pounder, who is nicknamed “Squirt” for obvious reasons, said her first year at Holland has been “amazing” despite the early setback.
“I though being away from home would be pretty hard,” said the St. John’s native, “but everyone here makes it really easy to adapt. It’s better than I expected,” added the sport and leisure management student, who plans to be home for Christmas.