Hannah Jardine says she thought about playing NCAA division one college basketball when she was in Grade 9 at O’Donel High School in Mount Pearl.
The dream started to take on substance when she began playing for Canada’s age-group teams, and started drawing attention from schools all over North America.
Sometime within the next couple of weeks, Jardine, now 17, expects to sign the papers that will make her a full-scholarship member of the University of Delaware Blue Hens, the seventh-ranked women’s team in United States college basketball.
Jardine recently gave the University of Delaware her verbal agreement, and all that remains is signing on the dotted line for her dream to come true.
“It was really a hard decision,” said Jardine during an interview at the Provincial Sports Centre Tuesday night in her native St. John’s.
“I really had no idea in Grade 9 that it was even possible for me to play in the NCAA one day. It just popped into my head.”
Jardine visited the University of Delaware in October, and was very impressed with the facilities and the coaching staff.
New, state-of-the-art facility
“They just built a $22 million, a state-of-the art facility,” she noted.
The gregarious teenager will take a four-year engineering program and she said the university offers “really good assistance,” which impressed her.
She explained head coach Tina Martin, who started her 17th season at the helm of the Blue Hens squad this season, got an opportunity to see her play at AAU club team tournaments in Chicago and Pennsylvania in July.
“She saw me play about 10 games and I formed a really good relationship with them (University of Delaware). I felt they really had a good understanding of me as a player and what I liked to do on the floor.”
Jardine also said the university team is graduating six seniors this season.
“They told me nothing is guaranteed, but the opportunity is there for me if I put in the work,” Jardine said.
She said those July tournaments, and being involved with the national age-group team the past few years, helped her out in terms of being noticed.
In August, she helped Canada win a bronze medal at the FIBA female under-17 world championship in Amsterdam. She contributed six points and two rebounds in 13 minutes of second-half floor time in Canada’s 84-77 win over Japan, marking the first time this country has won a medal in a women’s world age-group tournament.
In 85 minutes of floor time in eight games at the U17 tourney, Jardine scored 26 points and pulled down 21 rebounds.
The six-foot-one guard had also been a part of Canada’s bronze-medal winning team at the U16 FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico in 2011.
Jardine, who had also visited Virginia’s James Madison University, said that university didn’t have exactly what she wanted in terms of the engineering program.
She said if she had decided to attend university in Canada, she would have chosen Memorial.
“I had heard from a lot of schools (in Canada), and MUN was definitely an option right up until I made my final decision,” she said.
“Obviously, I would have loved to have played at home. Doug (Partridge) is a great coach and MUN has a very good program, but it’s been my dream to play at the division one (NCAA) level and that was the deciding factor.”
She said there will be a four-week summer session at Delaware where she will work on getting two credits under her belt while working out with the team’s strength and conditioning coach, and playing some pick-up games with her new teammates.
Jardine said she realizes there will be a lot of time involved between school work and basketball next year, but she says she’s always been pretty good at time management and doesn’t think it will be a problem balancing everything.
“It’s what I want do, so I know I will put in the time and effort.”
Jardine, whose love for this province has no bounds, says living away it will be an adjustment.
She’ll miss home
She admits she’ll really miss home and is somewhat nervous.
Still, she figures she’ll be so busy with her courses and basketball that she won’t get to do much else or have time to get homesick.
“There goes my social life,” she said with a laugh.
She said she will miss her family — dad Mike, mom Carina and younger sister Caroline — along with her friends, and that will be the toughest part.
She intends to stay in close contact with her family, however.
“Skype will be my new friend,” she added with a smile.
However, she said her parents are expected to take in several of her games next year and she’s looking forward that.
In the meantime, Jardine said she will be working out at the Provincial Sports Centre with head strength and conditioning specialist Jerome Brennan and doing her best for her high school Patriots team this season.
“I’m glad the decision has been made as far as my future is concerned,” said Jardine. “But I’m just going to approach my final high school year like any other — go to practice, play in tournaments and hopefully win.”
She said her long term goal is to play for Canada in the Olympics, and she already knows dreams really do come true sometimes.