Meet the Athlete: Shantell Harden


Mya Stanberry

Senior Shantell Harden defends against Orono Jan. 10. Park won the game 66-60.

Halima Bigirindavyi

What has your experience been like playing basketball at Park?

It’s honestly amazing. I transferred here my sophomore year from Burnsville and it was just all full-switch in culture and just community in it. The coaches are super involved, even outside of just our practices and in the offseason. They really actually care about us as players and people, not just because we wear their uniform. So it’s been amazing, being a part of that community and being able to be a figure that the younger girls can look up to and ask questions and want to be a part of it.


How do you feel about getting 1000-pointers and how has that affected you?

It was just a really big accomplishment that I’ve been hoping to do. Not a lot of people are able to accomplish that and it makes me feel really special that I was able to go out and show my talent and just kind of make a name for myself. That’s always super big — not a lot of people actually outside our school know who I am in the basketball world, but being able to achieve that goal can help publicize myself. 


How do you manage your time?

I spent a lot of time here at the school, within the gym, and just even in the athletic office, but when it comes to managing time, I try to get all my schoolwork out of the way, and then focus only on basketball. I don’t like to mix the two, because then it creates unneeded stress while I’m playing. Thinking about the fact that I have to go home and write a two page essay or something, it’s not very ideal. I like to use my time that I spend in the athletic office to do my homework throughout the day, and then when I go home, I can relax and do my outside things.


What has been your highlight playing basketball throughout your years?

I’d say a big highlight for me is, every year I’ve been here so far, we’ve made it to the second round of sections for basketball. And we’ve come so far that it’s been my setup every time so far, but we’ve played them super tough and super hard. It just hasn’t come for us yet to, like, actually finish them and beat them. But I’m really hoping that this year we can. I’d say the highlight is being able to make it to the second round of sections every year since I’ve been here.


What has been your daily routine for basketball?

Game days, I’d say a big thing is I don’t go home after school, no matter what time the bus is. Or if it’s a home game, and I’m here ‘till seven, I stay in the athletic office, or I watch the younger levels play and I separate myself a little bit, but also I still like to talk to my TV stuff, but I listened to my pregame playlist. I don’t go home because I don’t want to take a nap or anything and then wake up groggy and stuff. I make it a big thing to stay here, keep myself up, keep myself moving. And then I also rehab my body before games.


How do you feel about getting committed to Mankato and playing for a D2 school?

I’m honestly super excited to go play there. I know a lot of people have been super confused because they look at the D2 label and think, ‘oh, why aren’t you going to be D1?’ Or, ‘why are you going there?’ But for me, it was the community and the family that they have built there. Again, that was a big thing for me coming here and it’s also a big thing for me going there. The coaches are super involved. And they’re super welcoming. I love that about them. They made me feel like they actually wanted me to be there and be a big part of that program, which really stood out to me. So, I’m super excited to go there next year and be able to play with them. 


What is your goal for the rest of the season and your goal coming into Mankato?

I’d say a goal for the rest of the season is I want to make sure as a program, we finish above 500 for our records. That’ll be pretty big. It’s very doable for us. As long as we all stick to the plan, I think we should be able to achieve that goal. I say personally, for this season, I want to be in the running for Miss basketball in the state. That’ll be really big if I am able to be one of the candidates. That’ll be awesome. And then I’d say going into Mankato, my overall goal is I want to play right away freshman year — starting would be obviously awesome. But if not, that’s okay. As long as I can get good minutes and film. That’d be amazing. I just want to be able to continue to learn there and work on my skills.


What advice do you like to give out to students who want to be where you are right now? 

I’d say stay resilient, for sure. Don’t be afraid to listen to criticism and reach out to the people that are giving you critiques. At first, I wasn’t really open to criticism. I took it very personally and then once I stopped and just started asking questions, it helped open up a whole new level to my game. Advocating for yourself — especially if you’re trying to go play at a college level, you have to promote and advocate for yourself. Not everybody gets to have the newspapers and the writing up programs like Pep Girls Hoops talk about them, which is a big thing for me as a lot of girls in my class of ‘23 are very promoted. Then there’s the other half of girls that just don’t get the publicity and makes it hard for recruiting. So I definitely advocate and promote for yourself as well.