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Chrisman graduate Hayley Hardin is making a name for herself in the Sports Management Field. In 2017, Hardin signed with Danville Area Community College to play softball. “DACC seemed like a county-wide high school to me,” Hardin said. “I saw several familiar faces around campus as I never met a stranger, so it was a smooth transition coming from Chrisman.”
Hardin has been officially ‘retired’ from softball for almost two years, but is still fairly active. Through the summer, she plays in a slow pitch league twice a week and a golf league. In the winter, Hardin enjoys downhill skiing. “I recently ran my first 5K during the Christie Clinic Race Weekend last week.”
During her time at DACC, Hardin was involved in a car accident that would change her life course. “I was blessed with a great staff during my time at Danville Area Community College, who informed all of my current professors of the situation and made accommodations to put everything on hold for a few months,” Hayley told us.
After a long grueling nine months, Hardin was able to be conditioned to resume college softball. Since returning, she’s had a few minor surgeries. “I believe in total I have had twenty surgeries and a few emergency room trips post accident. All in all, I have recovered roughly ninety percent,” Hardin said. “I do have some nerve damage through my left leg and foot, yet it does not hinder me from doing what I do on a daily basis.”
Once coming to terms that her athletic career was over, Hayley made the decision to transfer to the University of Illinois. “I have always been a huge University of Illinois fan my entire life,” Hayley said. “I was one hundred percent set on trading in my green and gold for orange and blue.”
It was at U of I that Hayley chose sports management as a major to still be directly involved in sports for the rest of her life. At U of I, Sports Management goes by the name Recreation, Sports, and Tourism and is one of the top programs in the country.
“Our facility goes above and beyond for their students. I personally have been provided with several opportunities to advance my studies as well as my career.”
Hayley has worked within the department of Event Management through the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at UIUC since August of 2021. Her duties revolve around customer service/operational rolls for all of the Fighting Illini Athletic Events.
“I was given the nod early on for larger responsibilities, such as visiting team liaison, representative for officials and handling minor occurrences,” Hardin said. “My favorite responsibility for televised Big Ten events is Time Out Coordinator or TOC. I have a headset on and communicate with an off site producer for commercials, then relay communication to the officials for competition to resume.”
As for her second job within the Athletic Department, Hayley is the Summer Staff Coordinator for Fighting Illini Summer Camps/Clinics. Her primary objective as the Summer Staff Coordinator is to help oversee all camp check-ins, hire/conduct interviews for registration assistants and maintain the summer staff schedule.
On May 15th, Hardin will graduate with a Bachelor’s and will begin her internship on May 16th. For her internship, Hayley will continue her current position for the Fighting Illini Summer Camps/Clinics throughout the summer.
“I have been accepted into the Master’s program under Recreation, Sports and Tourism and registered for the Fall term of 2022,” Hardin said. “As for employment, I have a few graduate assistantship opportunities on the table currently.
I plan to make a decision later in the summer. My ultimate goal post graduation with my Master’s is to hopefully receive a full-time position within the Athletic Department at UIUC.”
Recently, Hayley was the recipient of the Margaret K. And Edward W. Harvey Scholarships, which she has received the last two years. The specifics to be a possible recipient is an undergraduate student in RST who graduated from a high school in the State of Illinois and submitted a statement on how their work could impact the state of Illinois after graduation.
“I have a large parks/recreation background through my twelve years as a participant of Edgar County 4-H, as well as volunteering when time allows,” Hayley said. “I am honored to be chosen as the scholarship recipient the last two years as this gives the acknowledgment from our department as a whole that I am on the right track and will accomplish great things to come.”