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Thursday April 11, 2019 at 9:47am Age: 44 days
Category: High School, District, Athletics, Middle School

THE UNCOMMON ATHLETE PROGRAM: ATHLETICS AS A PLATFORM FOR CHANGE AND LEADERSHIP


“No one will remember the points you scored or the records you set, but people will remember how you made them feel,” Cody Hodges told the student-athletes gathered for the “Uncommon Athlete” assembly in the school auditorium on April 10. A former Texas Tech and Tennessee Titans quarterback, Hodges spoke from personal experience.

The Uncommon Athlete is a program of the Carl Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit organization that works to awaken individual transformation and promote safer, more connected schools. Rachel Daryl was the first student to die in the 1999 Columbine school massacre. Her story, as told by her father, Scott Daryl, would serve as a call to action in Hodges’s life. “Football wasn’t going to last forever,” he said. “There had to be more to my life.”

Hodges presented to students at the high school and middle school at two assemblies and his motivational presentation to the students was largely about choices: Listening to others, or listening to your dreams and who you are? Impressing people, or impacting lives? Self-pity, or courage? Anger, or joy? Doing what’s easy and popular, or doing the right thing?

Choices matter because, the way Hodges sees it, athletes have a platform for influence and change. But time is of the essence. As Hodges reminded his young audience, for many of them their athletic careers will end with their high school graduation.

“Americans love their athletes. Schools love their athletes. Kids at the middle school are looking up to you. They want to be you,” Hodges said. “Think about your impact on your school, as a team, as an individual. Are you making your school a better place?” 

The audience was listening. “This was very eye-opening,” said football captain Nicholas Marotto, a junior. “I had never thought that athletics gave me a platform to change people’s lives.”

Class of 2019 Brylee Pelfrey, a captain of the cheerleading team, took a long pause before phrasing her main takeaway from Hodges’s presentation. “Every decision matters,” she said thoughtfully. “People of all ages look up to us so it’s important to do the right thing no matter what.”

Mixing personal stories and accounts of other students’ responses to the message of the Uncommon Athlete program, Hodges challenged Minisink's student-athletes to take the principles and values of P.R.I.C.E. to heart: developing Perseverance; building Relationships; living with Integrity; choosing Courage; leading with Empathy.


Meeting separately with team captains after the general assembly, Hodges discussed the concept of leadership in the simplest, most direct terms. “Leadership is service to a cause larger than you,” he said. “Do you serve your team? Is your participation in athletics about you or about others? You can’t change everyone in your team, but you have the responsibility to set the tone." 

Pondering Hodges’s many compelling messages, Class of 2020 football captain Jack Mack distilled them into words to live by: “Chase your dreams while making a positive impact on other people.

Sponsored by the office of the Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, “The Uncommon Athlete” presentation was also offered to modified sports athletes at the middle school, in the afternoon. DA Hoovler participated in the high school assembly.