Harding, an east Sparks resident and fourth-grade teacher at Sparks' Lena Juniper Elementary School, is an assistant coach for the Reno High girls basketball team. It's a role she's held for the past eight years.
Shane Foster took over the perennial power Reno girls basketball program for the 2005-06 season and he asked his long-time friend Harding to help him keep the Huskies among the state's elite.
Mission accomplished! Reno has won six league titles with Foster and Harding leading the way. The RHS gang has also won four of the last six northern Nevada large school girls hoop championships.
"When we took over here, it was promising for both us," Harding said. "We are both Reno High graduates. I was part of the 76-game winning streak. It's always nice to go back where you came from."
Harding also helped Foster when he coached the girls varsity basketball program at Hug in the late 1990s. Additionally, she's coached softball at Hug and Spanish Springs over the years. Coaching is in her blood.
"I've seen a lot of different teams here at Reno," Harding said. "You get some of the kids for a few years, but each team is different. The personalities of the girls are phenomenal. That makes coaching encouraging. The girls push through challenges continuously. It's fun. That's why I coach and I still love the game of basketball."
That love of helping kids learn led Harding into her career path of teaching as well. She's taught at Lena Juniper, located off Queen Way in Sparks, for the past nine years. This year is her first year teaching fourth grade after years of handling sixth-grade teaching chores. Overall, it's her 25th year teaching elementary school children.
"It's always glorifying to see the growth of a child. I still feel that," she said. "I love living and teaching in Sparks. I love the community. It's wonderful."
Harding, a 1983 Reno High and 1988 UNR graduate, calls the Rail City home now, but Reno High will always have a special place in her heart. That's why she gives a big part of herself to the program now and the program gives back to her as well.
Harding's 13-year-old daughter Dominique is an eighth-grader at Mendive Middle School but plans to follow in her mother's footsteps and attend Reno High. Dominique has been at countless Huskies workouts over the years and essentially grown up in the RHS gym and locker room.
"The program has been great to her," Harding said. "It's instilled an importance of respect and competition. She hasn't missed much. It's motivated her. The girls have been great role models. I appreciate that."
Harding has helped guide Reno through a stellar winter campaign. The Huskies won the High Desert League and North Region championships. They entered this week's state tournament with a 25-3 record. After downing Bishop Manogue in the Division I North title game last Saturday, Reno earned its fifth state tournament berth over the last six seasons.
"This team is motivated," Harding said at the Huskies Monday afternoon practice. "It has great camaraderie. I know what it feels like to cut down that net after winning a state championship. I want them to feel that, too."
Foster is not modest about having Harding help the Huskies' coaching staff. He heaped praise on his veteran assistant.
"She's a huge part of this staff," Foster said. "To have a strong female on your staff is excellent, but one who is from here and invested in Reno pride is huge. She won championships here and she shares those memories and experiences all the time. We wouldn't have had half of the success we've had here without her."