Featuring 2020 Women of Inspiration Honoree:
Director of Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, Head Athletic Trainer
Minnesota United FC
WISE Twin Cities is celebrating Stacey Hardin, Director of Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, Head Athletic Trainer at Minnesota United FC, as one of this year’s 2020 Women of Inspiration honorees.
Think about the moment in March when you learned the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact the virus could have on your life. Were you solely responsible for yourself? Were you responsible for your family? Now, put yourself in Stacey Hardin’s shoes.
She became responsible for the 31-man Minnesota United roster, the technical staff, the training staff and the MNUFC front office.
“It’s interesting because it was definitely something that was thrown on myself and other people in my role within the league,” said Hardin. “It’s not something that you said, okay, how can I really prepare for this? It just happened. And, that’s why I’m thankful that we have a really strong medical organization, physicians and local community health experts who we can work with. It isn’t just me making these decisions.”
A surprise for Hardin, her team and the world alike, her leadership through these unprecedented times elicited a response from individuals of a willingness to rise up to the challenges the club faced. She not only led by example, but with a contagious dedication to ensure the collective goals be achieved.
Hardin absorbed her leadership skills at an early age, ironically through playing soccer. The game empowered her and the lessons that she learned in her boots back then, she instills in her day to day operations now.
“On paper, my biggest accomplishment would be breaking some of the gender-related barriers that exist in professional sports,” said Hardin, who is the first and only female head athletic trainer in Major League Soccer.
“The thing that I’m the proudest of, though, is being able to consistently work with a group of people who are able to band together and work well. You are only as good as the people who are around you, so to be able to have people who pull together and are moving towards a common goal is an accomplishment and speaks to the type of people we want to have around the organization. It also speaks to the team of people we have been able to assemble, and I’m really proud of that.”
While Hardin values the group she goes to battle with every day, she also places an incredible importance on the mentors she attributes to helping her find both comfort and confidence as she’s grown into her current role. She has picked their brains. She has asked them questions. She has chosen mentors in both similar and different career paths to confide in.
“And, don’t be afraid to reveal to them the human side,” said Hardin. “For some time, people have tried to hide the human side of their work life. Everything blends together. The more that you can figure out the humans and the why behind people and how they interact, the better off everyone is going to be working and living together. Especially, nowadays, in a time that you work from home or you live at your work, whatever you want to call it, that becomes even more important to understand the holistic person and how you can support each other to work on your common goal.”
Hardin places a clear value to finding success in the all-in, all-together mentality-driven space that builds a trustworthy environment for her team to thrive in. What’s evident is that environment exists because she created it through her leadership and the example she sets each and every day.
She has not only made strides in shattering the glass ceiling for women in the industry, she has taken on a challenge this year so substantial and delicate with an unbelievable amount of grace and diligence, solving all of the obstacles placed in her path.
“It is a privilege to help people with their health and well-being, especially in times of uncertainty and panic,” said Hardin. “Sometimes, candidly, it is exhausting to receive all the phone calls and all the emails and all the texts, but taking a step back and remembering these are our people and these are our lives and real feelings that they’re having and being able to offer support in moments where people are scared, or vulnerable, or don’t know what to do, is a privilege. So, I’m happy to do that and thankful to do that, and thankful that I have a strong organization and group of people who I continue to work with and help.”