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While millions of Americans watched the New England Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons on television during this year’s Super Bowl, Williamsburg native James Hardy was on the sidelines experiencing the largest Super Bowl comeback in history.
Hardy was named the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the New England Patriots last spring and helped the football players along this season on their ride to the Super Bowl victory.
“It was my first experience with the NFL, and I learned a lot,” Hardy said. “The Super Bowl is a different animal. It was a lot of fun, but very stressful because we were there to win. It has been my job to get the players prepared and where they needed to be. Winning the Super Bowl made it all worthwhile.”
Hardy’s two sports of choice while growing up in Williamsburg were lacrosse and soccer. After graduating in 2000 from Lafayette High School, where he lettered in soccer, Hardy went on to study exercise science at Christopher Newport University down the road in Newport News.
Hardy worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for a year at CNU before moving on to Auburn University and later to the University of Colorado.
Hardy was a coach at Colorado with the men’s football and basketball programs and the women’s lacrosse team for roughly ten years before being asked to join the New England Patriots in March 2016.
“It’s been an honor to work for the Patriots,” he said. “The team has great players and a great staff.”
As the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach, Hardy works with all the players, including the starters and the practice squad, on a daily basis to ensure they are stronger athletes.
“It’s not just about winning games, but about taking care of their bodies,” Hardy pointed out. “Overall, my job is to make sure they are strong, in shape, that their agility is right. At the end of the day, it’s about making them better players. We are here to give them more tools physically to use to get better at football. It’s been incredible.”
So has been interacting with the Patriots’ famous head coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady, both of whom Hardy says are just like the rest of us.
“Both of them are class acts, and I really enjoy working with them,” Hardy said. “Tom was one of the first guys I meet when I came here and he came right up and introduced himself.”
“Tom is just a normal guy,” Hardy continued. “He is a great guy and a hard worker. He has a lot of respect for what we do as coaches. At the end of the day, the players really are just like anyone else. They are really good at their jobs and just happen to be on TV.”
Hardy says his proudest moment of the job so far has been, of course, seeing the team bring home the Super Bowl title and trophy.
“I really get to know the players personally as I am helping them develop in the weight room and see the fruits of their labor on the field,” Hardy said. “Watching each individual player grow — and then seeing those results on the field during the Super Bowl — was very rewarding to me.”
Hardy works long hours nearly year-round, which leaves little time to return to Williamsburg. He tries to get back to his hometown as often as possible to visit his parents, his sister, and other family and friends. He had a respite shortly after the Super Bowl and found time to give back to the community locally by speaking to students at Lois S. Hornsby Middle School during Career Day.
“I really do love Williamsburg,” Hardy said. “It’s a wonderful place.”
Hardy also loves his job and is now back in Boston gearing up for a new season of football.
“I really enjoy it here with the Patriots, and I really love what I do,” Hardy said.
Read more profiles of local residents in WYDaily’s section In Our Hometown.