The reputation that Head Coach Mike Helmer has built for the women’s basketball program is what initially drew a Mustang, Oklahoma native to Butler.
“Teams in the past for Butler have been great and the name alone grants exposure to the players,” Randi Harding, a point guard, said.
Harding is in her freshman year at Butler Community College. In addition to the reputation of the Grizzlies and Coach Helmer, she was drawn here because of the academics. During her first visit to Butler, she learned about the academics along with the supportive staff.
“I am someone who loves academics and school, so having a good basketball program and great academics was a win-win situation,” Harding said.
For this liberal arts major with an emphasis in science, she hopes to pursue work as a creative director, although she has multiple interests across various subjects.
“This gives me the opportunity to explore different classes and career paths,” Harding said. “Right now I’m taking psychology, which I really enjoy. My plan is to become a business major and focus on marketing and advertising. If it would be possible, I would also like to minor in finance.”
Aside from academics, much of Harding’s time is spent on the court and in the locker room. Harding began playing basketball at eight years old, and one significant influence in her life has been her father.
“My dad played college basketball and actually had me in college, so I was always around the sport,” Harding said. “I strongly disliked the thought of myself playing basketball when I was younger; I used to do ballet, tap and gymnastics growing up. Though I started basketball at eight, I didn’t begin to like it until I was around 10. My dad taught me how to shoot 3-pointers and dribble, which took some time, but I enjoyed the discipline and learning of the sport. I’m a very competitive person, and once basketball started to get more competitive as I moved up in age, it became enjoyable.”
Harding also considers the team her family. In fact, two of her former teammates are her best friends. The Mustang, Oklahoma native also credits the lessons she has learned through basketball.
“Basketball is always intense; there is never a play-off where something exciting doesn’t happen,” Harding said. “You can learn from your peers, professionals, people who once played the sport and coaches. In basketball, you can continue to grow and build your skills every day to make yourself that much better.”
To date, the Grizzlies are 9-1; their closest game was against Seward County. Harding has played in all 10 games, has 14 assists and has scored eight points per game. As the Grizzlies most recently fell to the Coffeyville Red Ravens, Harding reflects on what she and the team need to work on. Even in games that are won, there are always mistakes to work on.
“I like to acknowledge the mistakes, but not let them get to me to the point where that is the only thing on my mind,” the competitive point guard said. “At the end of the day I’m playing a game. The mistakes aren’t going to define who I am as a person, so I must move on. Regardless if the team wins or loses, I like to call my parents and my grandmother to thank them for watching and hear their input about how the game went.”
Harding does hope to improve this season as a teammate, and as always she hopes that there will be many wins.
Aside from basketball, Harding enjoys traveling and as many college students do, streaming her favorite shows.
“I love rewatching the same shows over and over like The Office, Friends and Dance Moms,” Harding said. “I also enjoy journaling in the morning, which I try to do every morning. It’s a great way to start the morning and get out any thoughts or ideas I have with myself.”
Apart from college and basketball, Harding has two influential people in her life, her grandmother, who helped to raise her since her parents had Harding while they were college students, and her father.
“I’d say she is one of my best friends,” Harding said. “I call her about five times a day just to talk about nothing. After already raising two kids of her own, she took me in and treated me like the daughter she never had. She showed great kindness in that action and always acted graciously to others. She is very giving even when she doesn’t have much and is at the center of my family.”
Harding’s father, who also played basketball, is one of her close friends, and she also refers to him as her “twin because of how similar we look”.
“Without him I wouldn’t be in the position I am today,” Harding said. “I would not have an athletic scholarship if it weren’t for him teaching me the sport. I wouldn’t know the people I know without him; I wouldn’t know what hard work is.”
For this Grizzly basketball player, Harding will continue to play her all –both in the classroom as finals are right around the corner and on the court. The women’s basketball team will next face the Dodge City Dragons at home on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m.