TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Margaret Stran and Brent Hardin were excited for their friends, Mike and Kathy Mouron.
Stran and Hardin, pioneers of the University of Alabama’s Adapted Athletics program, sat Friday in the Rast Room of the Bryant Conference Center anticipating the announcement that the new state-of-the-art adapted sport facility would be named after Kathy, who, along with her husband Mike, launched the project with two gifts totaling $4 million.
Kathy stood several feet from Hardin and Stran as Mike pulled the black cloth and revealed the glossy rendering of the facility.
The name “Stran-Hardin Arena” was printed on the rendering and will rest above the main entrance to the facility, which will be completed in mid-December.
Stran gasped and began crying. Hardin did his best to hold back tears.
“We thought it was for Kathy, and we were so excited for her,” Stran said. “Mike and Kathy are wonderful people and a pleasure to be around.
“It’s truly overwhelming.”
Hardin said the honor made for the most “humbling day of his life.”
“To me, it’s not something that we have done,” Hardin said. “It’s something that’s been a labor of love for our whole program, starting from the very first students who were here, our presidents and administration. It’s great to be a part of an organization that really cares about doing the right thing.”
The two-story facility located next to the UA Rec Center will include a NCAA regulation game venue for wheelchair basketball, locker rooms, workout/training room, strength and conditioning room, team meeting rooms and study halls.
Mike said he and Kathy were honored to potentially have their family’s name on a building at their alma mater, but said Stran and Hardin truly “earned it” through their commitment to adapted sports, inclusion and UA.
“I can’t tell you how long we’ve looked forward to this day,” Mouron said. “We want to relish every minute of it.”
The UA Adapted Athletics Program began in 2003 with women’s wheelchair basketball. The program has since grown to include 30 student-athletes in women’s basketball, men’s basketball, wheelchair tennis, para-rowing and adapted golf.
UA is home to five national championships in women’s wheelchair basketball (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2017) and one in men’s wheelchair basketball (2015). Wheelchair tennis has won three national championships (2013, 2015, 2017).
Stran is a two-time Paralympics medalist and former coach for Team USA. Both she and Hardin coached UA to multiple national championships in wheelchair basketball. Additionally, more than 100 students participate in UA’s non-competitive adapted sports.
“It’s an amazing journey and bigger than I’ve ever imagined,” said Stran, who was joined at the announcement by current and former players, UA administrators and supporters.
“When you look at your life, you look at who you are and who you want to be. Brent makes me a better person, and you all have helped us become more than we ever thought we could. Thank you for believing in our dreams and growing our dreams. Make your dreams for other people because we can build so much more if we are committed to it.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.