102120_MNS_Landmark_Grooms_001 Lady Hardmon Grooms with team

Landmark Christian School girls’ basketball coach Lady Hardmon Grooms, center, instructs her team during a game in the 2019-20 season.

Lady Hardmon Grooms is taking on a larger leadership role as Landmark Christian School’s new director of basketball operations.

Grooms was hired in March 2019 as the school’s girls’ basketball coach, and the director position was created earlier this year and announced Oct. 7.

“I think it’s good I was named director because of my basketball pedigree,” said Grooms, a former University of Georgia and WNBA star who has coached for nearly 20 years. “… I just felt like Landmark is a great location to build a program. They want to be excellent in everything they do.

“Overseeing the basketball program is just another way to contribute to Landmark’s philosophy of being a well-rounded student. Education is to prepare you for life. With basketball I want to use that as a tool also. Sports also helps build character among people. I really want (the program) to be at a high level.”

Grooms has a plethora of wisdom to share with Landmark players. At Georgia, the guard was chosen All-SEC in 1990 and 1992 and finished her career in the school’s top 10 all-time for scoring, assists and steals. Grooms was also named an SEC Legend in 2010.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia in 1992, she was a first-round pick by the Utah Starzz in the inaugural WNBA draft in 1997. She played professionally for eight seasons before spending three years as an assistant coach for the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Coach Grooms then spent seven seasons as the head coach at Arlington Christian School in Fairburn. During her tenure, the Eagles won 111 straight games and four consecutive GISA state championships from 2009-12.

Grooms then was the head coach at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross for five seasons, when she led the Spartans to three Final Fours and a state runner-up finish in 2017. She said it was “a hard decision” leaving GAC, which she calls “one of the best private schools in the country.”

But because she lives in Sharpsburg, which is 20 miles south of Landmark’s campus, she was happy to find a job closer to home.

When asked about her goals as director of basketball operations, Grooms said, “My goals are to make sure we represent the school in an excellent fashion. When you see Landmark, we want to be great in all we do, how we present ourselves. Win or lose, the Landmark team never stops. We always go until the end. We’re going to do it the right way. There won’t ever be an issue at this school.”

She also said she plans to bring to the campus some WNBA payers to speak to student-athletes.

“They’re going to talk about basketball, but they’re also going to talk about life,” Grooms said.

She also plans to continue to improve the Eagle girls’ basketball program, which went 8-17 last season.

“This is my third school (as a head coach), and I always feel like the first year (the players) have to get used to me,” Grooms said. “I’m an old-school coach but I still try to make it fun. It’s always an adjustment. I believe in conditioning and running. I believe in fundamentals nonstop. I feel like with the second year, we will always be successful. I feel like when the kids love you and respect you, they will go beyond to believe.”

When asked about being able to play basketball despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the coach said, “I’m relieved and I’m still cautious that at any given time we could get an email saying shut it down. My kids will have masks on at certain times during practices.”

Grooms added the pandemic has made it difficult to host basketball workouts prior to when the fall sports end because of coronavirus-related restrictions.

“I have five girls playing volleyball and six playing softball,” she said. “When I do have girls in the gym, we (are) limited. I’m communicating with the mask, walking around, but I give them a sheet of paper and they almost do everything on their own. … It’s just different. Once basketball does start, instead of going an hour and a half, you may do two hours more. We’ll figure it out in a safe way.”

Interim Athletic Director Mollie Mayfield said the director position was created as part of “a vision to align the (boys’ and girls’ basketball) programs more as a skills-based program.

“She was hired as the girls’ basketball coach, but she definitely has a vision to see a continuity with both programs that aligns with Landmark’s mission,” she said of Grooms’ new role.

Mayfield, who came to Landmark in May 2019 after spending 25 years at Georgia Tech, said Grooms has been “amazing” thus far as a coach.

“She builds morale, instills solid skills with the girls and also creates a camaraderie with the parents to partner well with them to further Landmark’s vision for the basketball program,” she said.

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