By Isabela Diaz & Abby Doriot | Staff Writers
While bus drivers Matt and Linda Hardin may have started off driving to help with their children’s schedules and to make more money to allow them to farm, it blossomed into something completely different. Linda Hardin’s love for helping people drew her into driving the school bus.
“Linda is my regular bus driver, so she drives me to school and back home every day. She wakes up early to take us in the morning to school. That is something I know I wouldn’t do, so it really takes a special sort of person to do this. You can really tell that she cares about all of the people she has on her bus,” Ellie Bryson (10) said.
They also drive buses to sporting events as well as their usual routes. Instead of dropping off the team and leaving, they actually stay and watch the game, match or meet. The athletes that they drive have only good things to say about them.
“Anytime we want to go out to eat after a meet, Matt gladly takes us. It’s really nice to have something to look forward to after a meet,” Tristian Rowland (11) said.
Not only do the players have genuine, nice things to say about the two drivers, but the players’ appreciation goes deeper than any words can express.
“Our cross-country team doesn’t really have a fan base that travels with us because it isn’t really considered a spectator sport like football or basketball. Every time Matt drives our team to a meet he sits on the lines of the course in a lawn chair, he brings a newspaper and reads them until we run past. Then when he sees us, he cheers for us. The first time I remember him doing this it was at Paoli. Paoli has a killer hill, and it is just a really hard course. He sat at the bottom of the hill and cheered us on. It was really nice to have someone cheering us on who wasn’t a coach or a parent,” Kristen Skelton (11) said.
With Matt Hardin driving the bus for 33 years and Linda Hardin driving for 21, they could not help but feel the connection with the players and students they drove.
“I really like being around the kids, and I enjoy spending time with them,” Linda Hardin said.
“I have a connection with a couple of players, and I like watching them play,” Matt Hardin said.
With the growth of their love for the players and students, it was more than just a job for Matt and Linda Hardin.