Hardt wins NCAA honor

While Jim Harrick Jr.'s infamous test got all the attention, it's people like Julie Hardt who truly represent what student-athletes are all about.

Hardt, a 2000 Carson High graduate, who just completed her career with the University of Georgia swimming team, has been awarded an NCAA Postgradaute Scholarship, the most prestigious award the NCAA gives to graduate students.

It's also been an historic year for Carson City as another 2000 Carson graduate, Kiel Costella was also awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Costella, who completed his career with the Villanova men's swim team this year, tentatively plans to begin a Chinese studies program at Cambridge University this fall.

Both Hardt and Costella will receive $7,500 as NCAA Postgraduate Scholars. Hardt still has one more year of undergraduate study at Georgia and is undecided on what she'll for her graduate studies.

Georgia received a great deal of attention recently for a ridiculously easy test on basketball that Jim Harrick Jr., a former men's assistant basketball coach at the school, gave to his players. By contrast, Hardt has a 3.74 grade point average while maintaining a difficult double major in exercise science and psychology.

Hardt joked about what her double major will allow her to do. When working with athletes, Hardt said she'll be able to "tell them to think about the laps they're going to run later."

Hardt was also able to joke about Harrick's class. "I wasn't priveleged enough to be in that class," she said. "That didn't represent Georgia at all. It was just that one class."

"It's definitely an honor," said Hardt about the postgraduate scholarship. "It makes the University of Georgia look good.

"It's a credit to the coaches. They put a lot of emphasis on getting good grades and representing our school well."

Along with her double major, Hardt trained 30 hours a week. "It is tough which is why I've to go to the fifth year," she said. "It's almost like having a full-time job and full-time school.

"But you make it through. You get very good at managing your time, managing your sleep really. Most swimmers graduate in five years instead of the usual four."

Hardt has already had a stellar career. She won numerous All-American honors at Georgia and helped the Bulldogs with the 2001 national title as a freshman. Later that summer, Hardt swam on the 800-meter relay team that still holds the American record and won a world title in the process.

But Hardt's career was also plagued by a shoulder injury, but she said she was again healthy this past year. That bodes well for the Olympic Trials to be held July 7-11 in Long Beach, Calif. Hardt, who also competed in the 2000 Olympic Trials, will compete in the 200 and 400 freestyles in Long Beach.

Although she's not counting out a top-two finish in the 200 free, which would place her on the Olympic team in that event, her main goal is to place in the top six, which would earn her an Olympic berth in the 800 free relay.

"Even if I don't make the Olympic team this summer I've definitely accomplished a lot," Hardt said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to do things that most people don't get a chance to participate in."

After graduating from Georgia, Hardt said among the options she's considering for graduate school are staying at Georgia or attending the University of Nevada. She will continue to study in the area of exercise science, which is an area that Nevada is strong in.

Contact Charles Whisnand at chwisnand@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1214.


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