By: Briana Zuccarelli, GoPSUsports.comStudent Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As senior week comes to an end, Aly Hardy has a lot of emotions going through her head. The senior forward started playing hockey when she was six years old when she saw a flyer about hockey sign-ups.
"I looked at my parents and said 'I want to try hockey'," said Hardy. "I am sure they were a little hesitant at first, but they let me try it and I never looked back. I fell in love with it, it's hard not to."
On Friday evening of the final home series, the team held its annual banquet to recognize the players on their accomplishments, especially the senior class. Hardy and the rest of the senior class will also be recognized during the senior game on Saturday, February 24th at 2 p.m. Hardy said her time at Penn State has flown by and it has become her second home.
"Knowing that this is my last year and now last week to play for Penn State in regular season is scary, crazy, sad, humbling, I don't even know how to describe it," the senior said. "Although it is very emotional knowing it is senior week, I know I will be able to look at myself in the mirror and say 'I've done it.'"
Hardy explained that playing for the Nittany Lions has been nothing short of a dream. When she had first started playing, she set a goal to play Division I hockey and she did just that. Now that her time in Happy Valley is winding down, she praised not only the athletic department at Penn State, but also the academics in what got her here.
"Having the opportunity to graduate with a Penn State degree is an honor alone," said Hardy. "It sets you up for so many more opportunities in the future. It was an easy decision, and one of the best decisions."
The Saturday matchup against Lindenwood will mark the last home game for the senior class. Friday night the Nittany Lions suffered a 1-0 loss and will look to end their last game with a win for not only the team as a whole, but the seniors.
"Having it be my last home weekend does give me a little more motivation going into the series," said Hardy heading into the weekend. "It will be nice to end on a high not in Pegula."
Through her time at Penn State, she was able to make endless memories in Pegula, yet her favorite memory was off the ice. Hardy recalled coming back from a road series and a 5-hour bus ride. The team had just gotten back in time to see the final quarter of the Ohio State football game in 2016.
"I just remember throwing our bags inside the door at Pegula and sprinting over to the game," she said with a smile. "We made it just in time to see us come back and beat Ohio State. That was one of the best memories and feelings. I think I lost my voice for the entire week we were screaming so much."
"Anyone that knows Aly would know she is a really funny person," said Rydland. "I have so many memories with her. It's just the little things with her, she makes everything fun. Being able to be her teammate has been awesome for me and she's definitely going to be missed."
Head coach Jeff Kampersal explained that these seniors definitely "bleed blue and white" and he only hopes that they could have a great experience. Coach had nothing but praise for Hardy and the type of person she has been to him from the first time he showed up to campus this past year.
"For me personally, when I came in and was transitioning she helped me out a lot," said Kampersal. "She is someone that I trust and can talk to about certain situations. I find her very mature, smart, and an advice giver."
As Hardy prepares for her final game in Pegula, she hopes to leave her legacy on and off the ice at Penn State, and those who have interacted with her have no doubt she will.