Whether it is burning defenders on the football field, or busting through records around the track, Howell senior Joshua Gardner is not your typical high school student-athlete.
Gardner has participated in sports his whole life. One of his most influential people throughout his life was by his side the whole time.
“My dad coached the teams I was on as a kid,” Gardener says with a smirk. “Him and my mother helped shaped me into the person I am today.”
Over time Gardner’s immediate family grew larger with the separation of his parents and the eventual addition of a step-parent. Gardner’s father, Tom, works as an insurance agent while his mother, Kathy, works with Howell Public Schools as a first grade elementary teacher. Gardner has multiple siblings including his full sister, Katie, who cheers and plays softball for Howell. Also, Gardner has three step-siblings, brother Devon, and two sisters Shelby and Nicole.
In his youth years, Gardner played multiple sports such as basketball, football, and in time, track and field. Gardner played junior football in the Howell Area Junior Football League for Team White and basketball 6th through 8th grade for his middle school, Highlander Way. In Gardner’s late years of middle school, he played for Howell’s all-star team alongside the majority of what is now Howell’s varsity football team.
100 M 10.73
2011 State 4th place on 100 M dash
2011 State 5th 4×100
2011 Regional Champ 100 M
2011 regional runner up 4×100
2011 KLAA Champ 100 M
2011 KLAA 2nd 4×200
2011 KLAA 3rd 4×100
Gardner’s hall of fame athletic performance started when he stepped foot onto Howell’s High School campus. He proceeded to be dominant on Howell’s freshman football team often scoring two, three, even four touchdowns a game. This stellar performance caught the varsity coach’s eyes as they brought him up to play during their 2008 playoff run.
This was surreal to Gardner as he used to dream of playing at this level.
“When I was younger, I always looked up to the high school players. They were what I wanted to be one day,” Gardner says reminiscing on his past.
A prosperous year for Gardner was 2009 when he was only one of two sophomores to play on Howell’s varsity football team alongside fellow classman Greg Cauley. In the spring of 2010, Gardner ran for Howell’s varsity track and field team as a sophomore as well.
With experience under his belt, Gardner hit his 2010-2011 athletic year running, starting for the football team along with the varsity track team. Gardner started what ended up being one of the most accomplishing track seasons any athlete has ever had at Howell High School. Gardner made first team all-state his junior year in the 100 meter dash and 4×100 relay team. Gardner also broke Howell High School’s track records in the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.73 seconds, 4×100 relay time of 42.9 seconds, and the 4×200 relay time of 1:30.8.
Gardner’s epic season attracted many collegiate coaches as the summer of his senior year was packed with football exercise camps, college offers, and training for his senior football and track seasons.
Even though the 2010-2011 season was historical for the Howell football team, with the longest playoff run any team has ever had, the 2011-2012 season was not as kind. With the record of 4-5, this year’s team was young and inexperienced. To add to this, Gardner broke his scapula before the season started and missed a total of six weeks before debuting at the Grand Ledge game. Gardner still averaged four and a half tackles per game at the free safety position and six points per game at half back on offense. Gardener also had 34 carries for a total of 232 yards, averaging an astonishing 6.82 yards per carry. Alongside his rushing statistics, Gardner also averaged almost 30 yards per return on special teams with a touchdown in their last game against Waterford Mott High School.
Even with it being difficult to look at the bright side to a somewhat disappointing season, Gardner still sees the upside and only uses it as motivation for his upcoming senior track season.
“Losing really isn’t fun, but I still enjoyed my last season as a Highlander with my fellow teammates,” Gardner says.
Gardner was the captain of his track and field team as a junior, and a captain on his football team as a senior. With his leader-like work ethic and mentality he will undoubtedly be voted team captain this year on his track team and looks to break more school records and once again speedily lead his team to states’ in back to back seasons.
Although he is fast in competition, Gardner is taking his time picking his place for further education.
“I want to go to the place that gives me the best offer,” Gardner says with tension in his voice. “I’d like to pursue a career in sports medicine, though.”
No one knows how far Gardner’s talents will take him in life. All we know for sure is sports are his undying passion and if you’re ever looking for him, check a sports facility first.