Imani Hardin, a junior basketball player at the University of Dallas and number 50, has been playing basketball since she was eight. She realized that she wanted to be serious about her sport in the eighth grade, because she loved it and realized it could be a means to an education.
Hardin shared that her sophomore year of high school challenged her decision to commit to basketball. She explained, “It got kind of rough mentally. And I maybe thought about quitting a little bit. But I had a really great support system within my parents and my family. And my best friend and I knew that my love for the game was more than the struggle that I was going through.”
Along with being supportive, Hardin shared that her parents are also role models for her, especially her mom.
“I think that she’s so strong and I think that the happiness that she gets from watching me play allows me to love it more. And I think that she’s just an inspiration in every way,” Hardin said.
In terms of having professional basketball players as role models, Hardin explained that she is a big fan of LeBron James and Dennis Rodman. Dennis Rodman is a player that she tries to base her game off of, calling him a hustler.
Hardin shared a moment that was special for her team was during her freshman year when they traveled to Colorado.
She said, “When we won that game, it proved that we could do things and that people in the conference were going to take us seriously and it was all our hard work. And preparation up to that point had paid off. And just being there with the coaches and all my teammates that was a great memory.”
The life of a student athlete can be stressful, but Hardin shared that she works hard to manage her time in order to have a balance. She acknowledged that it did get harder playing at a collegiate level because the academics are more rigorous than high school; however, her coaches and teammates are supportive and make it all more doable.
Hardin shared that her favorite part of being a Crusader, academically speaking, is that she knows that she is getting a quality education. The professors are passionate about what they teach and push the students, but they also try to get to know them.
She said, “The hardest part is that it’s definitely hard. It’s challenging. It makes you think, in ways that you probably weren’t pushed at high school or other colleges probably. It’s definitely more rigorous, but it’s worth it. And once you accomplish something or complete an assignment you feel proud of yourself for doing it.”
Hardin commented that an underappreciated aspect of basketball is the adversity of it: going through tough times together as a team truly helps to build a bond. It makes success feel much more rewarding.
Hardin tries to be supportive to the freshmen, because as a former freshman herself, she wishes she knew not to get in her head as much and to understand that basketball is a game that can carry many emotions with it. She wishes that she understood how supportive her teammates can be.
She emphasized, “Your self worth isn’t determined by how you perform in the sport.”
Being a Crusader has changed Hardin’s life in so many ways. She came to UD with her best friend and roommate. Playing basketball and rooming together has allowed them to grow closer; It also made her appreciate the people in her life more.
“I feel like I’ve just made such genuine connections. And that I’ll take a lot of the things that I’ve learned and been through here throughout my life, I don’t think I could ever forget,” she said. “It’s definitely been hard, but the fun moments definitely outweigh the bad moments.”