He attended St Joseph's College in Ferntree Gully.
Fondly known as "Damo", back then: Hardwick, was always astute in the sporting field, over academic achievements He was a key player in the school's football side, which was highly competitive, against other private schools in the EIS sports program. St Josephs, has over the years produced a number of AFL players.
In football, Hardwick was always on the field, for most of the game, and known to be a tough, hard working, and versatile player, understanding the game well, who kept stability in play for his side.
Although he did not excel, at being the best, and fairest, quite often outclassed by others on field, his all round abilities were vital to the side. It came as a surprise that his AFL career flourished so well, where the careers of others who, got more attention, and achieved more on the field, never went on in the AFL ranks.
Beginning his AFL career with the Essendon Football Club in 1994, Hardwick was known as a tough, solid defender. His aggressive nature sometimes got him into trouble at the AFL Tribunal. He was a crucial part of Essendon's 2000 premiership side.
He was traded from Essendon to the Port Adelaide Football Club and played with the side in the twilight of his career, until his retirement in 2004.
He played a big part in Port's premiership win of 2004. His role in the Grand Final was invaluable as he won three free kicks at crucial times, including a reversal against Jason Akermanis which cost the Brisbane Lions a shot at goal.
In 2005 Hardwick began working as an assistant coach under Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn.
In 2007 Hardwick was shortlisted for the senior coaching job at Melbourne Football Club, however he was unsuccessful, with the position going to Dean Bailey. Following this application he was also shortlisted for the senior coaching job at Essendon Football Club to replace the outgoing Kevin Sheedy however he was overlooked in favour of former Richmond captain Matthew Knights.
On August 25, 2009 Hardwick received his first senior coaching job when he was appointed as the senior coach of Richmond for three years.
In March 2012, Hardwick agreed to a two-year contract extension.
On 11 December 2013, club president, Peggy O'Neal, announced that Hardwick had accepted a two-year contract extension that tied him to the club at least until the end of the 2016 season.
In 2016 Hardwick agreed to a two year contract extension to the end of the 2018 season.
Hardwick's first season at Richmond did not begin well, with nine straight losses to start the season as well as a few disciplinary issues arising at the club. However, in round 10 the Tigers had a breakthrough win; defeating Port Adelaide by 47 points in extremely wet conditions in Adelaide. They also set a new record for the most tackles ever made in an AFL match (142) since records began in 1987, and kept Port Adelaide to their lowest ever score. The club went on to win five more games making a total of six in Hardwick’s first season. They finished the season in 15th position.
In 2013, Hardwick coached Richmond to its first finals series since 2001, and only its third since 1982. Carlton defeated Richmond by 20 points in the elimination final after the Tigers led by 26 points at half-time, eliminating Richmond from the finals series.
In 2014, Hardwick's team started the year very poorly, having a win-loss record of 3-10 at one stage. But remarkably, the Tigers went on to win the last nine matches of the home and away season just making it into the finals. Richmond were however beaten convincingly by Port Adelaide by 57 points in the Elimination Final, finishing the season in eighth place.
Hardwick began the 2015 season under pressure to make amends for their past two failed Elimination Finals. It didn't start well, losing 4 out of the first 6 before recovering to finish the season in 5th place with 15 wins, same ladder position and win-loss record as 2013. Richmond came up against North Melbourne in this years Elimination Final, but once again failed and Hardwick's team suffered their third consecutive first week finals exit.
2016 was not a successful year for the as they finished the season with just 8 wins from 22 games. The highlight was the round 8 win against Sydney Swans when Sam Lloyd kicked a goal after the siren. They finished 13th on the premiership ladder, their worst ladder position in four seasons.Statistics are correct to the end of the 2016 season
North Melbourne Under-19s premiership side 1990, 1991
Essendon best and fairest 1998
Essendon premiership side 2000
International rules series 2000, 2001
Port Adelaide premiership side 2004
Hawthorn assistant coach premiership side 2008
Hardwick is married to Danielle and they have three children, two girls and a boy.