HAWAII GROWN REPORT
COURTESY OF ST. JOHN'S
Outside hitter Patti Hardimon has had as many kills as she did last year despite playing 24 fewer games.
Back in business
The former Moanalua standout enjoys the game again after move up to D-I
PATTI Hardimon came very close to walking away from collegiate volleyball two years ago but now is having the time of her life playing the sport for the St. John's Red Storm.
The 5-foot-8 outside hitter has been named the Big East Conference Player of the Week twice this year and made the league's honor roll on two other occasions.
Hardimon's 296 kills, 3.70 kills-per-game average and 133 hitting errors top the Red Storm. She is second in digs to fellow Moanalua graduate Kathleen "Leena" Yee with 271.
A four-time letterwinner with numerous honors at Moanalua, Hardimon wanted to remain in Hawaii. After graduation in 2003, she went to Chaminade and played two seasons for the Silverswords.
"We were successful at Chaminade, but I wasn't finding any joy in playing. Volleyball wasn't a hobby I could play for two more years," Hardimon said. "I got my release, left Chaminade (after her sophomore season) and wasn't going to play volleyball again. I was going to go to a community college or UH and finish my education."
That December, Red Storm coach Joanne Persico-Smith came to Hawaii to do a clinic with Kent Ma. While watching some local teams play, Persico-Smith heard about Hardimon from a couple of her former coaches.
She made contact with Hardimon through then-Moanalua coach Sheri Sagayaga.
"It was more of a surprise to me because it was a D-I school. Coach Sheri knew I didn't want to play, but she kind of pushed me on it. I think she knew I wasn't done yet," Hardimon said.
Sagayaga said, "Patti is basically like my daughter. We are inseparable. I thought she was ready to move on and be a little bit more challenged. I felt it would be a good fit for her. Coach Persico-Smith and I are very much alike, very energetic. It was a time for Patti to grow and mature."
Hardimon sent a videotape to St. John's and made an official visit in late July (2005).
"She really enjoyed it here," said Persico-Smith, who made a couple of points in selling Hardimon on the opportunity.
"Coach had to put it my head that New York wasn't as bad as it is made out to be," Hardimon said. "She said she had Hawaii players before and they did a great job."
Persico-Smith also made the correct move when she paired Hardimon with host and now teammate Latoya Blunt on her official visit to the Big Apple.
"That was the best thing Coach did. Latoya and I have similar personalities. She is outgoing, fun to be around. She took me places she thought I would like to see," Hardimon said.
Persico-Smith recruited Hardimon as an outside hitter even though she had always been a middle blocker.
Hardimon returned to Hawaii to make a decision, although she had an inkling on the flight back that a quick turnaround was up next.
By the time she made the return trip, the Red Storm had finished their preseason workouts. And, thinking she wasn't going to play again, Hardimon hadn't done any training that summer.
"I was really out of shape and had to learn to play all-around, in the back row, digging, serve and receive. It took about a month," Hardimon said.
Persico-Smith said, "Patti came in September and she cut into the starting lineup right away. It wasn't her fault she was late. We had to do all the paperwork.
"Patti hits from the left side but is versatile and can pop around in different spots. She is a primary passer and has emerged as a court leader. She keeps things steady on the floor. She is our court captain, which means she is allowed to go to the refs."
Persico-Smith thinks Hardimon should be a Big East Conference Player of the Year candidate.
"That is a credit to everyone in Hawaii who has coached her," Persico-Smith said.
"Patti goes against hitters who are bigger, but she can read a hitter. She is a tremendous passer and very confident on the court.
"If skill isn't doing that well, she will compensate by doing other things. Patti is great to coach and that makes her special."
The Red Storm take a 25-1 overall record and Big East-leading 10-0 mark into this weekend's matches at Syracuse and Marquette.
Hardimon is majoring in sports management and will graduate next summer.
"My main focus is to coach. I'm not sure at what level. I'm also considering going to graduate school and being a graduate-assistant coach," Hardimon said.
Yee (Moanalua '05), who started all 32 matches at the libero position as a freshman last year, has played in all 85 games this fall. She leads the Red Storm with 382 digs and is third with 26 service aces.
"Leena is doing an awesome job for us," Persico-Smith said.
Note: There is more to the Hawaii connection at St. John's.
Robyn Kurasaki (Maryknoll '00) is a graduate-assistant strength and conditioning coach working toward her master's degree in psychology.
Rosalyn Dang (Punahou '00) is a women's volleyball graduate-assistant coach studying for her master's degree in international business.
Both played for the Red Storm from 2000 to 2003. Kurasaki is the all-time assists leader with 4,751.
Hardimon's Career Stats
Patti Hardimon's statistics at St. John's University
Through Oct. 29. Courtsey St. John's University