Aquinas fencer cements commitment to Cleveland State
Pine Township resident and Aquinas Academy athlete Harry Hardman solidified his future path and accomplished one of his longtime goals by committing to fencing at Cleveland State.
The senior’s decision to fence for a Division I program represents a major accomplishment, but Hardman said he is more satisfied with his decision because of how Cleveland State aligned with what he wanted beyond athletics.
“I’m very excited about it. I think there’s a lot to look forward to with this decision. It’ll present a lot of exciting opportunities for me. I was definitely considering Cleveland State all along, and I just felt that it really would be the best environment for me to grow as a student, a fencer and as an individual, in general,” Hardman said.
“It’s located in the city of Cleveland, so there should be opportunities down the road for internships. And it’s a city, so there’s a lot going on with pro sports teams, concerts and things like that. Plus, fencing at the Division I level is a goal I’ve had ever since I started fencing.”
Hardman has accomplished a lot in the sport while establishing himself as one of the premier fencers in Western Pennsylvania.
Over the last two years, Aquinas Academy’s top foil has gone 43-4 in PIFA league play. During that time, Hardman also has been named to the USA Fencing All-Academic first team twice and the High School All-American second team twice. On the regional circuit, Hardman has worked his way up to earn a “C” rating from the U.S. Fencing Association, granting him eligibility in Division I North American Cup competitions.
However, Hardman’s most lasting accomplishment might be that Aquinas Academy did not have a fencing program before his freshman year. As a ninth grader, he petitioned the school to create a fencing program. The school granted his request, and since then, Hardman and team coach John Carroll have helped grow the program to 13 student-athletes. That is a significant number given only 105 students attend Aquinas at the high school level.
“It’s been a very positive experience. For me, it was beneficial because it taught me that if you want something to happen, if you think it will be beneficial to a community such as a school or a business, then you have to take initiative and put your idea out there and take action. It was a good lesson for me to learn,” Hardman said.
“I’m just very happy that we’re sharing the sport of fencing because it’s a wonderful sport. And I don’t necessarily care if everyone that fences for Aquinas becomes good fencers. I think it’s more important that they learn lessons through the sport. I certainly have, and I think those are the things that last, and I think it can help other kids.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.