Tim Hardy believes football is more than just a sport. When it comes to coaching his players at , he wants to use football to impact not only their athleticism, but their overall well-being.
"We're going to use this great game of football to help [players] grow as young men in terms of discipline, commitment and mental toughness: qualities that will carry with them far beyond the time with GAC on the football field," said Hardy.
Hardy was named in March as the for GAC after replacing former coach Tim Cokely. Hardy previously coached the football team at Mountain View High for three years and also held a coaching position for 10 years at Wheaton College, a four-year Christian liberal arts college and his alma mater.
As a quarterback there from 1995 to 1998, Hardy's time at Wheaton was part of the reason why he wanted to be a coach.
"I was fortunate to have a great collegiate football experience where I had coaches who poured into me, not just as a player, but also as an individual," he said. "I really believe what athletics, specifically football, can do to young people in terms of teaching some of [life's] important lessons. ... I just wanted to give back the experience that I had."
After aligning his passion for football into his career, Hardy led the Wheaton team to five consecutive conference championships, five NCAA Division III playoff appearances, and one NCAA semi-final finish. He served as the offensive coordinator during his last three seasons and then headed to Mountain View when it first opened in 2009 in Lawrenceville.
While GAC is dramatically different from coaching at a large public school and a four-year Christian liberal arts college, Hardy seems to fit into the small private school with his beliefs and vision.
"While his ability to teach young men the game of football is impressive, Tim's greatest attribute is his deep and vibrant faith in Jesus," said Senior High Principal Scott Harsh, according to a press release. "Tim is a gifted leader who will undoubtedly influence our students to more fully seek the Kingdom of God."
Hardy believes in treating his young players fairly while pushing and challenging them to be their best athletically. But what he probably has pushed more than anything is being a team and concentrating on relationships between players, which he said he shares with his predecessor, Cokely.
"The thing we focused on is building that team involvement in an environment where every guy is connected and valued in the program," he said. "I really believe teams win football games, not individuals."
While Hardy emphasizes players working together, he notes three top seniors with football experience who will help the Spartans thrive in that team-effort belief.
Those students are: Kyle Scales, a running back and defensive back and whom Hardy called "a productive player;" offensive and defensive lineman Andrew Bartolomei; and Andrew Lewis, a tight end and defensive end player.
"They're guys who have significant playing experience, and guys that we can count on to lead a very young, at the moment, inexperienced game," said Hardy.
Check out the players and the rest of the Spartan team against Stone Mountain High during GAC's first game of the season this week. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, and it will be held on GAC's home turf at 1575 Indian Trail Road in Norcross.
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