By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
He won two awards this past weekend and only had to give one speech -- that's a ratio to the liking of Amsterdam High School's John Hardies.
The senior basketball player was named the winner for both the Big 10 and Class A at this past Sunday's Section II Boys Basketball Scholar-Athlete Awards breakfast banquet, honors that are awarded to seniors and take into account academic success, leadership qualities and community involvement.
"It's quite a compliment to John," said Amsterdam athletic director Randy Hutto. "He takes challenging courses, he's always working hard and this is just part of the payoff for his work ethic."
Hardies, a three-sport athlete at AHS, had gone to the breakfast knowing he was the Big 10's winner, but found out on the spot that he had also been named the classification's winner. Going along with his Big 10 honor, Hardies had to deliver a speech to the few hundred people in attendance at the Marriott Hotel in Albany.
He took that opportunity to make light of his accomplishments.
"I said I was going to continue my education and basketball career at Maryland," said Hardies. "And I said: While everyone in the room is thinking, 'Can he really play for Maryland?' So, I said, 'Heck, no -- but there are intramural sports,' and that had everyone laughing."
Hardies said his college choice is not yet definitively made up, but the AHS guard is down to three main schools -- Maryland, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech -- to choose from for next fall. His basketball coach said he is sure that Hardies will succeed wherever he goes, saying his playing style crosses over into his personal life.
"He's a coach's player," said AHS boys basketball head coach Tony Orapello. "He's an ideal player: He does what you ask of him and you're not ever going to have any problems with that type of kid. He's always going to come through for you."
Hardies was a key component in AHS achieving one of Orapello's main goals for this past season. At the team's post-season banquet, it was announced that the Rams had been named a scholar-athlete team by the state.
"My philosophy is you have to be doing your school work, you have to be academically achieving," said Orapello. "I still believe basketball is the kind of game where you need to have the ability to think, analyze situations and react to things that happen around you, so it's good to have heady kids."
The Rams had a bunch this past season. One of the team's most compelling intrasquad competitons this winter was between Hardies and junior Andrew Rouse, who were vying for the club's top academic honor. In the end, Rouse narrowly edged out Hardies -- whose high school average hovers around a 98 -- which was more than OK with the senior.
"To be honest, I'd already gotten into my colleges and it's a great thing to put on a resume for him. The fact that he got the scholar-athlete award for basketball is fantastic. Pudge is the man, anyway, so that was fine with me," said Hardies, referring to Rouse by his nickname.
Wherever Hardies ends up this fall, he plans to challenge himself in the classroom. He said he is planning to study mechanical engineering, a choice that will surely keep him busy with his studying.
"Math is my worst subject," he said, laughing. "Kind of a bad idea, right?"