SSN: Lauren Harden Feature

Evan Miller

Harden becomes a breakout star on the court because of her play, power

As the white volleyball sits high above the net, freshman Lauren Harden has her eyes set on spiking the ball into the wood floor on the other side of the white net separating the two teams. Harden, to no one’s surprise, gets the point for Hamilton Southeastern.

Harden was introduced to volleyball by her two cousins, Jordan and Julia Washburn, who also happened to play volleyball for the Royals. However, volleyball is not the only sport the MaxPreps National Volleyball Player of the Year candidate started out playing.

“I was an active child,” Harden said. “I swam, played tennis, and ran track, but never enjoyed them enough to continue playing them.”

Volleyball team captain and senior Carly Mills sees the large upside in Harden’s game and believes that she is someone that can make a huge impact in the future.

“Lauren is a remarkable player and most importantly an amazing person,” Mills said. “Her talent has had a huge impact on our success so far in the season and the thing I love about her is her confidence on the court [since she’s] only a freshman on [a varsity team].”

Mills also has confidence in Harden to lead the team when she needs to, which is a rare trait for a freshman player to have.

“She isn’t afraid to speak up when something is needed to be said to the team and is so supportive to and every one of us, on and off the court,” Mills said.

The freshman not only shows her skill on the court, but she also makes her voice heard. Harden and fellow teammate Lovie Wallace both take a knee during the pre-game United States national anthem.

Photo contributed by Lauren Harden.

“I’ve always understood my place in the world,” Harden said. “I know since I’m not white, people will look [at me] and treat me differently.”

Mills and the rest of the team have Harden’s back throughout a difficult and troubling time for the nation, particularly people of color.

“Lauren is a fantastic teammate on and off the court and we will always support her in whatever she does,” Mills said.

Harden wants everyone to hear her message, not just in Indiana, but across the world.

“Honestly, I’m just tired,” Harden said. “Tired of being oppressed, being told that since you’re black, you aren’t going to go places in the world. I’m tired of seeing innocent black people in the United States being murdered based on the color of their skin. Racism isn’t just affecting me. It affects my dad, my mom, [and] my family. It doesn’t just affect my family. It affects families all over the world.

“My stance on BLM is we need change. 2020 has been a wake-up call for people that haven’t had to experience racism. This has been going on for a while, but people are just now noticing, which is sad but it shows you the world that we live in. I’m trying to create change in the world and it has to start somewhere.”

Harden has a long high-school career ahead of her, but she wants to make her impact now and show the rest of the country what she has to offer on and off the court.