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How Winter Haven's Serenity Hardy is motivated by family as she returns from ACL injury

A family of athletes keep one of the best girls' basketball players in Polk County evolving. And due to this inspiration, Winter Haven’s Serenity Hardy is off to a hot start for the 2023-24 season.

Hardy, who was The Ledger’s 2023 Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year, was enjoying the fruits of her labor in the first game of the season last Friday vs. Timber Creek when her jump shot was falling. She ended up scoring 23 points and added two steals and four rebounds en route to a victory.

“Since I was actually hitting, it made my teammates easier to dribble penetrate. I had a really good set shot that game, and I had a really good one-dribble pull-up and the off-the-dribble stuff, so it was kind of hard for the defender to guard me because I would actually drive and do the one-dribble pull-up, and then pass it, or I would do a set shot,” Hardy said. “It made me unpredictable in a way.”

Hardy comes from a family of Polk County athletes that keep her inspired. Her older sister Trinity Hardy is a point guard for Army. She also has a couple of brothers that have either played or currently play for the Lakeland Dreadnaughts football and basketball programs. Rolijah Hardy in 2022 earned The Ledger’s 2022 Big School Defensive Player of the Year; Derajah Hardy is a current cornerback on Lakeland right now.

This family seems to motivate Hardy to be a perfectionist. But it is her mother and father who are always in her ear telling her to train a specific way.

“There’s always room for improvement, so basically staying on the same path, not lacking, not slacking, always putting work in,” Hardy said. “There’s always work to do.”

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Last summer, she took the time to build up her body in an effort to prevent injuries. In 2021 when she was a member of the McKeel Wildcats, she tore her ACL and was out for the season. In knowing that injuries tend to happen as the body gets even more tired during the course of a game, Hardy participated in exercises that would get her heart pumping, then she would take jumpers to prepare her for the season.

Along with preventing injuries, though, her personal goals are also to dish out more assists and to become a better leader.

As for team goals for Hardy, Winter Haven, which is already known to be a good Polk County basketball program, is looking to make another state run.

With a myriad of roster changes — the Blue Devils lost Bre Washington and Kassadi King — Winter Haven is currently 1-1 on the year thanks to beating Timber Creek and losing to Lake Highland Prep ― the No. 18 team in the country. But it’s a long season, and the show will go on.

“We’re really young. When it comes to leading them … I’m ready for that,” Hardy said.

Updated win-loss records for Polk County teams

Kathleen (1-2)

Haines City (3-0)

Bartow (1-0)

Mckeel (2-2)

Lakeland (1-2)

Aubunrdale (0-1)

Lake Wales (0-2)

Tenoroc (0-1)

Lake Region (1-1)

Santa Fe Catholic (1-1)

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Winter Haven's Serenity Hardy ready for season; update on Polk teams