The juxtaposition of throwing a weight and excelling on the violin is difficult to imagine.
The violent nature of the throw and the delicacy of manipulating the bow don't seem to go together but Monique Hardy is able to mix the two in such a way that they both serve a purpose.
The Webster Thomas junior is one of New York's premier prep throwers. Hardy, 17, has carved out a niche on a national stage as well and her ability to throw will likely gain her big-school attention heading into her senior season, not to mention the chance to compete internationally.
The violin's purpose, however, is more subtle and not nearly as public. Hardy has been playing the violin since the fourth grade and while she doesn't compete or perform publicly, her time with the instrument is as important to her as her time on the track.
"Music helps me," said Hardy, whose father Sherman has worked a musician, songwriter and producer. "After a hard day at practice or a frustrating day of school, I use it to calm down. When I am playing I think about things I need to do. It helps me focus on my goals. It really helps me unwind and destress. I really find it calms me throughout the day."
Hardy, who says she also 'plays a little piano', favors Beethoven but likes sprinkling in some Mozart when she plays, which she does two or three times a week. The relief the music provides seems to be contributing and serving its purpose because Hardy has had a dominant spring following a near-record setting winter season.
She has won the discus in all four meets she has entered this spring, including throwing a personal-best 125 feet at The Sodus Spartan Showdown on May 4. Hardy has also finished first in the shot put in three of those four meets, finishing second once, throwing a personal-best 41-8 in the Warrior Relays on April 13.
Hardy also took first place in the hammer throw in the It's Hammer Time Series Meet (April 17) with a personal-best toss of 185-11. The hammer throw is not a New York state contested event so Hardy must compete on the USATF or club level. She finds that frustrating but has been able to work around it.
"It's a struggle to look for [hammer throw] meets," Hardy said. "I have to go to meets out of state or in smaller ones in state. I just have to deal with it. Usually we have a couple of USATF sanctioned events here and there where I am going against other high school kids. My goal is to still do my best and be number one. It's just another path I have to take and work with it.
"I've lobbied my high school coach [Matthew Carpenter] and he's been helping, talking with officials to see what's going on and maybe get a meet here and there. It would be more beneficial if we had a meet where a lot of people would come and it would get more publicized. We have a lot of kids who don't know what the hammer throw is and you never know what people could get into if they just tried it."
While many people may not know about the hammer throw they do know about Hardy, who jumped into the national spotlight during the winter season after taking first place in weight throw during the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships [March 8-10]. Her toss of 64-7.25 was not only a personal best, it left her just shy of the New York State record of 65.06 set by Shenendehowa's Jill Shippee in 2017. Hardy's toss is also sixth on the all-time girl's high school list while Shippee is fourth. The top spot belongs to Shelby Ashe [69-04], who set the standard in 2011.
"To be on the all-time list was a really exciting experience," Hardy said. "I had previously thrown 62 but I knew I had bigger throws in me. I had made some bigger throws in practice and I had cleaned up my technique coming up to New Balance. My goal next year is to break the state and national record. I've got one more year so I have plenty of time for that."
Hardy said she is asked all the time about whether she likes the hammer or weight throw better. She says she can't decide because each has its own attractive aspects - the weight takes more energy while the hammer is lighter and faster. Because she throws the weight more and has more experience with it, Hardy says she does favor it sometimes.
Still, she has no plans of giving up or moving on from either event. College awaits as does a possible career in physical therapy or athletic training. Hardy hasn't narrowed down any college choices yet but she knows she wants to try out for the U.S. Olympic team and compete internationally.
"I don't think it will be easy, but I am willing to take it on," Hardy said. "I want to finish my throwing career before I start with physical therapy or athletic training. It all depends on how long my body allows me to do it."