Elizabeth Hardacre wasn’t sure she wanted to attend Kansas Wesleyan after all.
She had signed to play volleyball for the Coyotes out of Thunder Ridge High School in 2019 but coach Fred Aubuchon’s resignation caught her by surprise.
“It was a little bit of a rocky situation,” Hardacre said, “there was a little bit of doubt there.”
It’s a story with a happy ending, though. Wesleyan hired Jessica Biegert to replace Aubuchon and Biegert quickly eased Hardacre’s angst.
“I had gotten really close with (Aubuchon) at our high school camp for a couple years and I had been to camp at KWU with him,” she said. “But Jess came in and picked me up and we never looked back. She did an incredible job with all of us and really treated us like family,”
“I now have an incredible life experience because of her and because of my team.”
Hardacre’s KWU experience culminated last month when she was named the Ginny Bevan Female Athlete during the annual Yotee Awards.
The M. Virginia Bevan Female Student Athlete of the Year award is named for M. Virginia (Ginny) Bevan, who was a pioneer in women’s athletics. She organized opportunities for young women to compete in intercollegiate athletics before the implementation of Title IX. She made sure that Kansas Wesleyan was at the forefront of the Title IX movement and served as the first coach of women’s sports at KWU. She also served as a professor in the Physical Education Department and was a life advisor to many students on the KWU campus.
Hardacre was thrilled to receive the award that carries Bevan’s name.
“It was an honor; I was kind of shocked,” she said. “She’s an amazing lady and the things that she’s done for KW are incredible. She started women’s sports and is a very influential person for me and for our team. I’m honestly completely blown away to just be considered and receive that award. She’s a really sweet lady and we love her.”
Hardacre was a dominant middle blocker for the Coyotes for four seasons. She was an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in 2021 and 2022 and was First Team All-Kansas Conference both seasons.
The Coyotes were 27-8 overall, 10-2 in the KCAC, last fall and qualified for the NAIA National Championship Opening Round by winning the conference postseason tournament. KWU lost to Oklahoma Wesleyan 3-0 during the regular season but evened the score in the conference semifinals with a tense, hard-fought 3-1 victory.
The Coyotes won the title the next day with a harrowing 3-2 victory over Saint Mary – a match they trailed 10-6 in the fifth set.
Hardacre said the OKWU victory will stand out in her mind.
“They kind of whooped us into shape during the regular season,” she said. “It was a huge game for us, a huge momentum builder. And of course the KCAC championship game was huge. Senior Night was another one. Mabee Arena was a huge part of our lives and playing in there one last time and getting to see everybody was great. They’re all great memories.”
KWU compiled an 83-48 record, 43-17 in the KCAC, during Hardacre’s four years. She credits much their success to the relationships and friendships she and the seven other seniors on the roster developed.
“Our chemistry on the court came from our friendship off the court,” Hardacre said. “I came in with that (2016) class and Morgan (Bryand) came in our sophomore year and fit right in. We were all peas in a pod. I think that’s a really big part of why we were so successful in the end because we were all so close.
“I was able to go through the whole experience with some of the closest people I have in my life and some of the best friends I’ve ever made.”