After orchestrating one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in Bluefield College women’s basketball history, head coach Steve Hardin has bid farewell to the Lady Rams to embark on a new coaching challenge.
Just seven months after leading the BC women’s basketball team to a school record 23 wins in a season and less than one month after starting the 2010-2011 Lady Rams campaign with even greater aspirations, Hardin announced to his team, Tuesday, November 30, that he would be leaving the program to join an NCAA Division I men’s basketball squad as an assistant coach.
“I am grateful to Bluefield College for giving me my first head coaching job,” said Hardin, who had been an assistant coach for men for eight years. “I have met some wonderful people on this campus and in the surrounding community, who have given me and my family support and friendship over the past five years.”
Hardin became the interim head coach of the Lady Rams mid-season 2007-2008, inheriting a program that had won just 10 games during the three previous seasons combined. After mustering together three wins his interim year, Hardin took on the head coach’s title permanently and responded by leading the Lady Rams to 13 wins in 2008-2009. A year later, in 2009-2010, he coached the Lady Rams to a school record 23 wins.
“We are deeply appreciative of the leadership Steve has given our women’s basketball program,” said BC President David Olive. “We wish him well as he embarks on this new opportunity. He has made a tremendous contribution in turning our program around, and we look forward to seeing the program continue to build upon its recent successes.”
For his heroics, Hardin was named Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Coach of the Year in 2010. The Lady Rams also earned a bid to play in the 2010 National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Tournament, where they finished fifth. At the start of the 2010-2011 campaign, coaches in the AAC picked the Lady Rams fourth in the pre-season poll, the highest pre-season ranking for BC women’s basketball in more than a decade.
“I give credit to the players,” said Hardin about his success at BC. “I appreciate all of my past and current players, men and women, and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve them.”
Hardin came to the Lady Rams by way of the BC men’s basketball program, where he served as an assistant coach and later associate head coach of a varsity team that went 65-34 overall and 42-19 in the AAC in just three years. During that same span, Hardin helped guide the men’s team to two National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Tournaments, while also serving as the head coach of the men’s junior varsity basketball team and varsity golf team.
“We are very grateful for the years of service Steve has given us at Bluefield, and we wish him the best in his coaching career,” said Athletics Director Pete Dryer. “He is a tireless worker and excellent recruiter. He is truly a players’ coach, and his knowledge for the game and ability to communicate and teach will be missed greatly.”
Before Bluefield, Hardin served three years (2002-2005) as a varsity assistant coach and junior varsity head coach for men’s basketball at King College in Tennessee. Before King, he was a student assistant coach for men’s basketball at Tennessee Tech.
He began his coaching career in 1999, while a student at East Tennessee State University, as an assistant coach for varsity boys basketball at his alma mater, Elizabethton High School in Tennessee. Coaching alongside his father, the head coach, he helped guide Elizabethton to a 27-8 record and a top 16 ranking among all boys basketball teams in the state.
“Our Athletic Department will miss his passion for coaching, dedication to his team, and likeable spirit,” added Dryer. “Coach Hardin will be successful wherever he goes and will continue to impact young lives both on and off the court.”
Hardin, his wife, Tanika, and their newborn daughter, Lyla Gail, will depart Bluefield in mid-December. In the meantime, assistant head coach Jessica Brokaw, a former player for the Lady Rams, will take over the program as acting head coach. Brokaw, a native of Lexington, Ohio, is in her third season as an assistant coach for the Lady Rams. As a player, she was a four-year starter, two-time captain, and onetime Most Valuable Player. In addition to her basketball duties, she is the head coach for men’s and women’s tennis at BC.
A nationwide search for a permanent replacement for Hardin will begin at the end of the 2010-2011 season.