LUMBERTON — Last summer, Destiny Hardin didn’t know if she would be able to play basketball during her senior year at Lumberton.
After coming out of surgery to remove a brain tumor that limited her ability to do tasks like writing and walking, she knew that getting back on the hardwood would be tough. Through her determination, Hardin not only had an all-conference caliber season for the Lady Pirates, but signed her letter of intent to play basketball for Methodist next season on Thursday.
It was a goal that almost seemed unattainable at one point.
“The surgery happened and when I came out of it, I didn’t think I was going to come back,” she said.
“I was basically like a 2-year-old trying to learn. A month afterwards, it started to come back and I was OK, but I was a little upset with myself because I couldn’t snap my fingers or come right back to it. I came back into the gym and worked on everything. I was able to come back and I was like, ’ OK, I can do this.’ I just practiced with the team to see what I could do. They put their trust in.”
Pushing Hardin to see if she could get back was coach Danny Graham.
“She had surgery in the summer and had no idea that she would ever play. Nobody did I don’t think,” Graham said. “When she came back, they kind of left it up to here on how much she wanted to get back on the court. She work hard with Sam (Davis) my assistant coach, and myself this summer and did a great job. It wasn’t easy. As the year went on, it got easier and easier.”
Fighting through this process of getting back to a sense of normalcy that included returning to the court gave Hardin a lesson that she carries forward.
“After everything that has happened, I believe in myself more,” Hardin said. “I feel like an all-around, determined player. I’m just happy they chose me because of everything I’ve been through.”
This season for the Lady Pirates, Hardin averaged four points and six rebound a game to earn all-conference and all-county honors. Over her final three seasons, Hardin was named all-conference and all-county.
She joins a Methodist program that is coming off a 3-22 season last year under Cheryl McNair, who served as the interim coach, and two months ago had the interim tag removed from her title. Hardin said the visits opened her eyes to the university.
“The campus, I thought was going to be small, but when I got there it was huge and bigger than I thought it would be,” Hardin said. “I went into the gym and I realized I would spend most of my time there. I loved it.”
Graham said that Methodist is getting an all-around player that will contribute and bring heart to the team.
“She did a great job just to come back from that and contribute for us,” Graham said. “She was an integral part of our team going 25-5. She’s a good kid who is going to do great in the classroom and do exactly what you tell her on the court. She will be a great team player.
“She has the great courage and character of someone who will never give up.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.