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A Star On and Off the Court

OLIVIA PAGE

STAFF WRITER

   On Friday, Jan. 29, Pinewood alumni Court Gardner was inducted into Pinewood’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Gardner is the son of our very own principal, Mark Gardner. Court graduated from Pinewood in the class of 1996 and was a key player on the boys varsity basketball team throughout his high school career.

   Gardner was a devoted teammate, hard worker, and competitive athlete. Gardner was amazingly the lead scorer in almost every game he played on the varsity high school team. Gardner brought the same level of intensity to all of his practices.

   “I think to me, the most meaningful thing about being honored is knowing I will always be a part of the history of Pinewood, and being recognized along with other athletes I admire that came before and after me,” Gardner said.

   Determined to improve, Gardner spent a significant amount of time on his own dedicated to growing his skills. Gardner was honored as Pinewood’s MVP in 1996, the season of his senior year, after the team was named undefeated league champions for two seasons in a row. Gardner had played basketball since he was very young and loved playing for club teams even before he entered high school. Developing the fundamental skills of basketball at a young age was a major factor in Gardner’s growth as a player.

   “When Court was playing YMCA basketball as a 10 year old, he learned to play for his own enjoyment; he wanted to play his game and learn the skills he would need to be successful … I do think that because of this, he became an excellent high school basketball player,” father Mark Gardner said.

   Mark Gardner was extremely proud when he heard the news; besides feeling fatherly pride, he had been his son’s coach as well. In his dual roles, he was able to watch his son’s journey throughout his high school career.

   “He worked very hard to become a good player, and this is a special reward 22 years later. There have been so many outstanding athletes at Pinewood, and it is very touching that he was chosen to be among this group,” Mark Gardner said.

   Gardner’s father was a leading role model and motivator throughout his basketball career.

   “My Dad and I still talk about stories and games like it was yesterday and laugh about them. My dad taught me to love the game, and during my senior year pushed me to be the best player I could be, and with his guidance, we had a tremendous season my senior year,” Court said.

   As Gardner reflects on a game in which Pinewood was down by 15 at the half, he remembers the joy that Pinewood’s hard-fought comeback brought the players and fans. The victory still holds a special place in Gardner’s memory and always makes him smile.

   Gardner describes his years at Pinewood as bittersweet. He misses the sense of community at Pinewood but knows he will always enjoy visiting in the future. He also added a few words of advice to current athletes at Pinewood.

   “Enjoy every minute of every season. There is not a week that goes by that I do not wish I could go back and play just one more game. Whether you are a star on the team or the last guy on the bench, enjoy the journey,” Gardner said.