Hardin's new book gives coaching advice through life lessons

Tanner Cook • Jul 16, 2019 at 8:21 PM

Legendary local coach Tony Hardin has worn many hats over his 32-year coaching career, most notably leading boys and girls basketball at Elizabethton to deep postseason runs in 1994 and 2003. He also coached baseball and softball at Unaka along with tennis at Elizabethton.

His coaching career came in touch with five different decades, beginning in 1979.

Nowadays, Hardin is enjoying life and is the author of a new self-help book entitled “Everyone Can Win,” which has been published by Published Advanced Group. The book has chapters for parents, coaches and administrators and is filled with relatable stories from Hardin’s long career on how winning at all costs is not necessarily how athletics should be approached.

“I think with the way the climate in high school athletics is today that this book needed to be out there,” he said. “I think people are going about it all wrong. You don’t have to go out and win every Tuesday and Friday evening in order to be successful. As a coach, you should really be helping the kids be prepared for life and let them fall down.”

Hardin’s first championship came at Hunter Elementary, leading the boys team to a state title in 1984.

A decade later, at the end of the 1993-94 season, he would lead the Lady Cyclones to their first-ever substate appearance (Class AAA). The feat didn’t go unnoticed as he received the Johnson City Press’ Northeast Tennessee coach-of-the-year award.

However, Hardin’s greatest accomplishments perhaps came when he coached Elizabethton’s boys basketball team.

In 1996, he led Elizabethton to an improbable 57-50 double-overtime win at Science Hill, ending the Hilltoppers 47-game winning streak when they were ranked No. 1 in Tennessee and No. 3 in the country. That same year, the Cyclones would beat the ’Toppers for what remains the program’s only District 1-AAA tournament title.

In 2003, Hardin guided the Cyclones to their only state tournament (Class AA) in the last 36 years, capping an incredible two-year run (28-0) in Watauga Conference play. The team won the regional championship both seasons.

The Cyclones made it to the ’03 state quarterfinals before losing to Memphis Ridgeway, 49-42. Hardin was named the Press’ Northeast Tennessee coach of the year that season as well. 

“The idea really started when I first started coaching,” Hardin said. “Nobody gives you a manual when you first start and you have to develop your own style. It’s kind of like raising a child. You come home with a baby one day and you have to learn what works and what doesn’t as you go along.”

Hardin retired from coaching — from Maryville Heritage in Blount County — in 2012 and finished his illustrious career with 552 victories. He was inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame in June.

“Without my years in Blount County, I honestly don’t think this book would have happened,” he said. “My former principal actually ordered it and I didn’t know about it. He called me after he finished it and said that everyone needs to read this book.”

His book is available on Amazon in both a paperback and a Kindle version. 

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