Carter Hardy and Paige Meily have been selected as State College’s winners of the Centre Daily Times’ annual James H. Snyder Award.
“I’m really excited because I’m really honored just to receive this award,” Meily said. “State High has some great student-athletes and it’s nice to be recognized as a great athlete and great in the school.”
The award, sponsored by the Centre Daily Times, is given in memory of Snyder, a former CDT sports editor, who was killed in an automobile accident in December of 1957.
The award is given to male and female senior letterwinners who also demonstrate excellence in the classroom as well as being a good citizen in the school and community.
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Hardy is a three-sport athlete who excelled on both the football field and in the swimming pool, and also was a member of the lacrosse team. A swim team captain, he was an 11-time District 6 champion who holds the district records in both the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke. He earned fifth place at the PIAA Championships in the 200 IM in March.
In football, he earned the Karen Ganter Award for sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership, sacrifice and commitment, recording 50 tackles including 3 1/2 sacks in eight games last fall as a strong safety in helping the Little Lions to the PIAA quarterfinals.
“Coming to swimming in November, I was always very out of (swim) shape,” Hardy said. “The farther we got in the playoffs, the harder it was for me to come back into the swimming season. This year we got to the quarterfinals, and that really put a strain on my getting in shape for when our meets came around.”
When pressed, he was unsure if he considered himself to be a football player who swims, or a swimmer who also plays football.
“I guess because I’ll be swimming in college, I’m a swimmer that also plays football,” he said. “But they’re both equally important parts of my high school career.”
He also follows in the footsteps of his father, Matt Hardy, who won the Snyder Award at Bellefonte in 1992, and later wrestled at Penn State.
Hardy is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Merit Scholar Commended and carries a 4.49 grade-point average. He plans to have a dual major in economics and healthcare management at Emory University in Atlanta, and be a member of the NCAA Division III Eagles’ swim program.
The NISCA All-American and Academic All American overcame two tears to the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, returning to the pool just a month after a tear during his junior season. He suffered the first tear on the opening kickoff of the 2013 season, then again during training camp before last season.
Away from school Hardy has held a number of part-time jobs, been active in the student government leadership council, been on the community engagement action team for the high school building project, is a Lion Ambassador giving new students and alumni tours, is the chapter vice president of Future Business Leaders of America and is a Special Olympics swim instructor.
Meily was just as busy on the field and off, although her athletic career revolved mostly around field hockey.
“I love it all the time,” she said. “Sometimes during the summer when it slows down, I wish it was more.”
That love comes after initially resisting the sport until a little persuasion from her older sister, Taylor.
“I didn’t like it at first and I wasn’t going to play it in middle school,” Paige Meily said. “But I watching an indoor tournament with my sister ... and it was such an exciting tournament I knew I had to try out.”
Meily was a three-year letter winner in the sport at State College, twice earning Mid Penn Conference All-Star honors as well as two All-State selections, including a second-team choice last fall. She also picked up the Lady Little Lion program’s Heart of the Lion award as the team’s outstanding player twice as well as the Deborah Ann Klingler Award for her commitment, dedication and enthusiasm.
She also plays for the State College Blue Lions club travel team, was a member of the 2014 True North Academy National Hockey Festival Championship Team, twice was selected for the Nittany Region team for the Keystone State Games, played in the National Indoor Tournament, has been with the USA Field Hockey Futures Program for four years and was selected to compete in the 2015 National Futures Championship. She also volunteers with the youth program with the Blue Lions and Centre Region Parks and Recreation, as well as for national indoor field hockey qualifier tournaments.
Meily is on the Athletic Director’s Leadership Council and will graduate in the top 10 percent of her class with a 4.619 GPA. She has made the high honor roll each marking period and is a member of the National Spanish Honor Society.
She plans to continue playing field hockey at the University of Pennsylvania, where she will major in either math or science, or possibly engineering.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” Meily said of playing Division I field hockey. “I wanted to go somewhere where I was going to have to work to play, but I want to have a chance, too. If I work hard the first year, in preseason, I might have a chance.”