Strasburg thrives under Hardy

Jordan Hardy

STRASBURG — Jordan Hardy was set up quite nicely for his first season as Strasburg High School’s head golf coach.

Hardy, who arrived at Strasburg in 2012 after spending two years teaching and one year coaching golf at New Kent High School, spent his first two years at his new school being mentored by former Rams golf coach Ricky Bowley.

Though he wasn’t associated with Strasburg’s golf team during his first two years at the school, Hardy recalls he and Bowley discussing the sport at great length during that span.

When Bowley stepped down from his position as Strasburg’s golf coach following the end of the 2013 season and Hardy was named as his replacement, Bowley passed along a binder to the up and coming coach. That binder, which Hardy carried with him throughout the 2014 golf season, contained everything the he needed to structure practices and build a successful team.

But Bowley also left Hardy with something else — a group of players that already understood what it took to be successful.

“These guys were 100 percent from day one,” Hardy said recently. “Coach Bowley, he kind of set the tone. I sort of just piggybacked off what he did, so that definitely helped. He left me with a good group that had a mindset of what it took to work and what it took to practice.”

Strasburg thrived in its first season under Hardy. During the regular season, the Rams won all five of their Bull Run District tri-matches, placed second in two district mini-tournaments, took third in the 12-team Skyline Invitational and won the Shenandoah County championship.

In the postseason, Strasburg placed third in the district tournament, won the Conference 35 championship at Heritage Oaks Golf Course in Harrisonburg and finished fourth overall in the Region 2A East tournament. The Rams’ season was capped by junior Colten Smith’s 17-place finish at the Group 2A state tournament as Strasburg’s lone representative.

For guiding the Rams to all of their accomplishments this season, Hardy has been named The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2014 Golf Coach of the Year.

“I think I got left with a pretty good group of guys, first of all. … We had some seniors but we had some leaders on the team who were self-motivated, which helped a lot,” Hardy said. “I didn’t have to get on guys to go practice and I knew when guys showed up the first day that it wasn’t the first time they had played. They had been practicing all summer. We just had guys that were motivated and driven to get better.”

On the links, Strasburg was led all season long by senior Jacob Smith and Colten Smith, the latter of which won both the Skyline Invitational and the Region 2A East tournaments.

But the Rams also got several key performances from senior Garrett Richards and junior Reese Taylor throughout the season, which gave Strasburg a formidable four-man scoring lineup at times.

“That happened in the conference [tournament],” Hardy said. “We needed all four of those scorers to score really well. All of those guys understood that they had to play their best and play really well. A big part of golf is not losing strokes mentally. I think as the year went on, especially those four, five and six guys, they really got better as far as realizing that they really had to concentrate and score as best as they could even though they may not be at the top of the leader board individually.”

While Hardy did have plenty of talent to work with this past season, he said he’s also had to the benefit of working closely with some of Strasburg’s veteran coaches over the last two-plus years.

Hardy, who is also the head coach of Strasburg’s JV boys basketball team and an assistant coach with the JV baseball team, said Bowley, varsity baseball coach Jeff Smoot, varsity boys basketball coach Matt Hiserman and former boys basketball coach Millson French have offered valuable examples in coaching.

“They make a really good program and a program that is successful year in and year out,” Hardy said. “It’s been really beneficial for me just to see and just sort of try to pattern myself and my program after people who have already had successful programs.”

The loss of Jacob Smith to graduation will not be an easy hole to fill for Hardy next season, but he’s encouraged by the amount of experience Strasburg should return in 2015 with six underclassmen on this past season’s roster.

“We’ve got some guys coming back that we’re excited about, the opportunity for the guys coming back and playing well,” Hardy said. “And I know the guys are already excited for next season, so we’re going to go out and work like we did last year and just try to get better every day.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com