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Keeping the Faith

Philippine Team's Game Against Troy Is Occasion for a Hardeman Family Reunion

December 24, 1999|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

T.J. Hardeman's family has been spread around the Pacific Rim for more than four decades, but he always keeps them close to his heart.

That's what made Tuesday's boys' basketball game at Biola University in La Mirada between Troy High and Philippine small-school power Faith Academy of Manila such a warm family reunion.

Tine Hardeman, T.J.'s father, has been basketball coach at Faith Academy, a private school for the children of Christian missionaries, for 42 years. Todd, one of three sons, is one of Tine's assistants.

And T.J. is in his 10th season as coach at Troy, where this season he has perhaps his best team.

"This is a unique thing to be playing against your own son," Tine Hardeman said. "I have a wonderful family."

Tine, 67, is set to retire after the Philippine basketball playoffs next month, so Tuesday's gathering was special for Hardeman family members. Many were on hand especially to be with the family's patriarch, who has managed occasional summer visits to the Southland over the years.

The day began at a luncheon hosted by Biola before the team settled in for the tripleheader in the Eagles' gym.

The first game featured Heidi Hardeman, a former Troy and Brea Olinda standout and one of 11 grandchildren of Tine and his wife, Jan, playing for the Biola women's team against Cal State Dominguez Hills.

That was followed by a game with the Troy junior varsity against Faith Academy's second team players. The Warriors' JV featured T.J.'s twin sons, freshmen Travis and Trent.

Then it was time for the father-son matchup. Time for Tine to put his varsity team's 21-1 record on the line against T.J.'s Warriors, who came in with a 10-0 mark. Troy, which led by only three points at halftime, rolled to a 72-54 victory.

"Coach Hardeman really takes a lot of what he does from his father," Troy guard Sean Christensen said. "He emulates him. He really respects his father and what he has done."

In 1955, Tine Hardeman was a 6-foot-4 shooting guard at Westmont College, where he was an honorable mention All-American. Later that year, he toured the Orient with a collegiate all-star team, playing in seven countries over 30 days.

He had mixed emotions about the trip. Among other things, the language differences made communications difficult, and he said he was made to feel uncomfortable in some of the places he visited.

So when Tine arrived in the Philippines for a couple of games, he was pleasantly surprised.

"I finally saw a country that speaks English, loves Americans, loves basketball and reads the Bible, although they didn't know a lot about it," he said.

Later, Tine became a public school teacher in Santa Barbara and spent two seasons as an assistant basketball coach at Westmont.

In 1958, he said he received an invitation to try out for the Lakers, but he turned down the offer and instead moved with Jan, a nurse, and 2-year-old T.J. (short for Tine Jr.) to Manila.

"I've never been sorry," he said. "I could have [eventually] been with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. They were my heroes at that time. But I've had a fantastic life and I've never regretted it."

Tine said his decision was motivated by his desire to help people who help others. The idea came to him during his recovery from a broken back and leg suffered while working as a logger during the summer after his sophomore year at Westmont.

"I made the commitment when I was in the hospital that if I ever walked again I would give my basketball abilities to the Lord," he said.

The Hardemans are not paid for their work at Faith Academy. Most of their expenses are met by charitable organizations in the United States, as well as donations from individuals, many of whom are friends or former Westmont classmates.

"I got my masters degree at Long Beach State," Tine said. "But I can't tell you one person from there. But when you go to a small school like Westmont, I can still tell you about 50 people from there."

His four children all attended Westmont. Todd, 37, coached against Tine for years at a rival school on the outskirts of Manila, but joined his father this fall when his school moved to a new location.

Tom, 39, coaches basketball at the Christian Academy of Japan. Terri, 41 and a teacher in Santa Ynez, attended Tuesday's events.

T.J. Hardeman saw the chance to coach against his father as an opportunity to provide a lifetime of memories for players on both sides, much like the fond times he remembers as a child in Manila.

"For those kids from the Philippines, this is a dream come true," he said. "They're getting to see all the different places in America and they get to see how they stack up against our teams."

Faith Academy played three games in Hawaii against other missionary schools last weekend and also played at El Dorado High on Wednesday, losing, 57-40. On Monday, it begins competition in the West Hills Chaminade tournament.

Tine figures his team will play about 40 games this season, which means he has coached in more than 3,500 games in his career.

The fact that all four of his children are teachers or coaches--in professions that give as much as they receive--doesn't surprise him.

"It kind of runs in the family," he said.

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