“Go Hard for Hardy” – PB Community Celebrates Mr. Paint Branch

Justice Abbott, Staff Writer

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“Go Hard for Hardy” is what the banner read on Friday, September 22nd as the Panthers took the field for their second home game this season.

Coach Walter Hardy was a fun- loving teacher, coach, and friend to the students, staff, and community of Paint Branch High School. When Coach Hardy passed away on September 2nd, it  devastated the entire community and left a huge void in the spirit of PB.

However, the community has taken several steps to come together and celebrate not only the life of Coach Hardy, but the spirit with which he lived. The most recent celebration took place on Saturday, September 22nd during the football game against Montgomery Blair High School. At this home-game-turned-celebration, the entire PB Community once again honored Coach Hardy’s spirit and attitude with a Welcome to #WallyWorld event.  

The stadium began to fill around six o’clock that night with parents, teachers, and students. The student section brought out a beach theme. They all showed up to the game in their best beach attire honoring one of Coach Hardy’s favorite places and forms of attire. Prior to the game, the cheerleaders spent hours creating an extravagant banner reading “Go Hard for Hardy” with the hashtag #WallyWorld emblazoned on the front.

With a lively crowd and vibrant scene, the evening was a success even before the teams took the field in what turned out to be the game of the year so far. Before kickoff, the national anthem played, and then the teams and the crowd honored Coach Hardy with a moment of silence.

To continue the #WallyWorld theme, the athletic department planned games and moments throughout the game that related to Coach Hardy. Fans were able to participate in  trivia questions about Mr. Hardy, and during halftime, “Hardy’s Hilarious Halftime Games” took place. Students, parents, and small children played tug of war and other fun games that Coach Hardy once loved.

There were six minutes left in the fourth quarter when the stadium lights dimmed. Then Coach Hardy’s favorite song, “American Pie,” played on the stadium speakers. The students, fans, cheerleaders, and even some players sang along to this meaningful classic, enjoying something that meant a lot to Walter Hardy. This night was filled with laughs and love as the Panthers and even the Blazers celebrated a man that meant so much to PB, the wonderful and wild Coach Hardy.

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