Sports are taking over the world’s attention as we prepare for Rio’s Summer Olympics, but we have our eyes on another global competition: 2016 Williams Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan. That’s because hometown hero and basketball star Shanrika Hardeman will be representing Atlanta as a member of Team USA! And though this personal trainer is a phenom on the court, she’s also an inspirational young woman who has had to overcome great obstacles and personal tragedy. Learn more about “Shan” and how she’s using her physicality and spirituality to achieve her personal and professional goals … and, of course, bring home a gold medal!
How did you get into playing basketball? What do you love about the sport?
I developed my love for the game in fifth grade. My favorite memory from elementary school is making sure we were on our best behavior so that we could go outside and play. Though most girls went to the swing set or just talked and played games, everyone knew where to find me — I was right there on the red top with all of the boys! I loved how the guys were always impressed with my toughness and I’ve carried that over to how I play, today. I love hearing the sneakers screech across the floor when good defense is being played; I love flying in the air to grab the rebounds; I love getting physical in the post, fighting for position. And my most favorite part is talking smack — in my later years, I’ve found it to be another part of my game.
Define “perseverance” and how has it impacted your own life?
Perseverance is a major key in everything I do. You must be diligent in your efforts to be great in all that you do. You must stay focused on the goal — even when things don’t seem to be going the right way. It means that you must not quit. I believe that our perception shapes a lot of what happens in our life. I choose to live a positive lifestyle and I know that if I live this way every day, everything that I want in life will come to me.
You’re representing America at the Williams Jones Cup in Taiwan. What is going through your mind right now? How does your competition training differ from your everyday training?
I am so blessed to have this opportunity! My main thought is I must go over there and represent for my city and bring the gold medal back home. All through my basketball career, I’ve played on a team and had coaches make me do the right things. These days are tougher: being an entrepreneur, working full-time hours, training clients and still finding time to put in all the work necessary to be at the top of my game. There have been many days of waking up early before work and staying up late just to fit in a workout. My thought pattern is that the other teams are up right now running and you can’t sleep, now. There is a mission that must be completed and I’m up for the challenge.
Where do you enjoy breaking a sweat in Atlanta?
I love to run around my neighborhood! I live near the Edgewood/Candler Park area, which is great for runners. I love living in the city because my friends are close by and we can always meet up and do fun, outdoor activities! You have the Old Fourth Ward Park, Freedom Parkway and, of course, Piedmont Park is one of the staples.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to overcome and how did you do it?
I’ve experienced two challenges in my life: The first came when my father suddenly passed away. I wasn’t ready for that and neither was my family. My dad was involved in a six-car accident and was ejected from his vehicle. It wasn’t the way that he passed but the whole idea that he is no longer with me. It makes me sad, at times, to see other kids loving on their Poppa but I know that he is always with me and that gives me peace. The second toughest thing for me is seeing my grandmother in pain. She was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer last year and it hasn’t been an easy process. To see anyone whom you love suffer can be tough but my grandmother is strong! She is a fighter and seeing the strength that she displays means a lot to me. She shows me that no matter what, I must finish strong.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a seeker of knowledge! Every Wednesday night I attend a class called “Raise Your Vibration” led by the great Adam Melvin. It is an intuitive group of individuals with great spirits who have really influenced my life. I had a brief understanding of the power that I held but this group has made me grow in ways I never saw for myself. We learn how to raise our levels of consciousness so that we are able to vibrate higher and have a greater impact on those around us.
As a personal trainer, what’s the No. 1 tip you can share with us regular folk about creating a healthier lifestyle?
My No. 1 tip that I tell people starting a new healthy lifestyle is to understand that this is your journey and you have total control over it. Don’t compare your story to others. Find out what works best for you and do what you love to do. This will become your new way of life and no one wants to do things they don’t enjoy doing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Do what makes me happy. I understand that every decision I make I have to live with — whether it’s good or bad — so why not choose to do something that brings me joy? If I focus my energy on things that I have control over, I can influence the outcome to be how I want it to be. I create my own reality.
What are three things you cannot live without excluding friends, family and faith?
My headphones, flip flops and a good book.
A huge thank you to Shanrika Hardeman — we wish her all the best in Taiwan as she starts competition this week in the 2016 Williams Jones Cup. Good luck!!
And as always, our appreciation to CatMax Photography for today’s winning photos!