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“He was the very best teammate, and your biggest nightmare if you were on the other team,” said Andy Towers, who grew up with Harden and his brothers in New Caanan before embarking on his own outstanding lacrosse career, which landed him in the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame two years ago. “He thrived on the idea that his counterpart on the other team was suffering playing against him. While he could be a big hitter, he was more of a surgeon than he was a bully.” Harden now lives in Ohio with his


family. He has three children with his wife, Dawn. Son Cole is a junior at Mariemont High School, where he plays lacrosse on a team coached by his father. Daughter Lindsay is a freshman in the honors program at the University of South Carolina, and also played lacrosse for her father at Mariemont. The oldest is Kendall, a junior at North Carolina who served as a statistician for the men’s lacrosse team last spring on its run to its fi rst NCAA championship since her father was on campus.


Harden only became a high school coach in Ohio after someone Googled him. He had led teams to state championships as a coach in both Connecticut (Wilton) and Georgia (Lovett) and was an assistant in the late 1990s at his alma mater before his family moved to the Cincinnati area. “It’s like Larry Bird coaching our basketball team,” Kevin Ferry, a Latin teacher and coach at Mariemont, told the student newspaper.


Much like the soft-spoken way he carried himself as a player, Graham Harden the coach isn’t about fi re and brimstone. “He’s not Bobby Knight,” said Julie Morgan, who assists Harden on Mariemont’s girls’ team. “The fi rst thing he makes his players do is learn the rulebook. He even threatens quizzes — if you don’t know the rules, you can’t play the game.”


One person who isn’t surprised by


Harden’s success as a coach is a fellow Tar Heel. Joe Breschi played with Harden and both of his brothers on those great early-1990s teams, and coached him as a graduate assistant to Dave Klarmann the year Harden won the Schmeisser Award.


“There was no real question to me that he’d be a great coach,” Breschi said. “He has a competitive side, sure, but he also has that great ability to relate to kids and people and bring out the best in them. That’s something I think we all try to do as coaches to make an impact, and he certainly has.” Since joining the staff at Mariemont, Harden has added three more state championships to his resume, all as an assistant on the boys’ team.


40 US LACROSSE MAGAZINE April 2017 USlacrosse.org


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