Thomas Hodges: Having a Slap

As the UCI Men’s Volleyball team celebrates senior night on Saturday, April 8, we continue our series on a few of their athletes. We got a chance to sit down with senior, Thomas Hodges, a few days before the team got back on the court to play against Pepperdine University.

Thomas Hodges transferred to UCI after he spent his freshman year playing at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Hodges explained that the volleyball program got cut, and the head coach at UCI recruited him. But, before he even came to the U.S. he made the decision he wanted to play in the States while also pursuing a degree.

 

Hodges began his volleyball career at the age of 16 when he became a part of the volleyball team at school. But before playing volleyball, he swam and ran track.

“I just really liked sports, and it was just a school team. I started getting better at volleyball than I was at track, so I said I guess I’ll just keep playing volleyball.”

As he continued playing volleyball over the years, he excelled, and realized he had a knack for the sport. When he came to play college volleyball, he did not know what the future would hold, but he was ready to face whatever challenges came his way.

Playing volleyball at UCI has come with its fair share of challenges. At the beginning of pre-season, Hodges was injured and was not able to play. But, when the season started he was back on his feet ready to win. Hodges told us a little about one of his favorite games this season, against UCLA.  The game went up to all five sets, and UCI ended up winning! It is games like those that make it all worth it.

Although, Hodges occasionally gets homesick, he keeps in touch with his family through Skype and Facetime. He also explained that the volleyball team is so close knit that they are like his second family.

A funny story Hodges shared with us was that he felt the language barrier was a challenge he faced when he first came to the U.S.

“My first couple of years here,  I felt that there was a language barrier. A lot of people didn’t understand me. But I learned to speak with an American accent, and pronounce my words better.”

Words like ‘chips’ and ‘tomato sauce’ don’t means the same thing they do in the States as they do in Australia.

 

 

Aside from being an athlete, Hodges also has to juggle his school work. As a civil engineering major, he has had to take challenging classes, while also bringing his A-game on the court.

“It is pretty tough. I’ve had to overload and take five classes every quarter just because when I transferred, I lost a lot of classes. I guess you find a way to be efficient when you study and do homework. You just have to be smart about how you handle your time.”

Under his major, he is also specializing in structural engineering. When asked what inspired him to major in civil engineering he described how at a young age he always loved building things with his hands and playing with legos. But, it was later on he realized engineering was the way to go.

“I always wanted to drop out of high school because I didn’t like it, and just build houses. But, then I started liking math and physics, so civil engineering was the right choice.”

Hodges plans to graduate at the end of the quarter with a degree in civil engineering and a record breaking volleyball career under his belt. But, he is not done with volleyball just yet.

When asked about his plans after graduation, he has his mind set on returning to play for the Australian volleyball team this summer. After the summer, he would like to go play pro in Europe for as long as he can or for as long as he enjoys volleyballl.   

 

Fun Questions:

Any pregame rituals?

If I don’t drink coffee before a game, I can’t play. If you were to deprive me of coffee I wouldn’t be able to play. I usually get an espresso macchiato. Me, Tamir, and Michael always get coffee together before a game.

Any hidden talents?

I’m pretty good at poaching eggs.

Favorite American food?

Burgers. I like Ruby’s Burgers on PCH.

Favorite food from back home?

I miss pies, I want a meat pie. They are really good, take my word for it.

Any regrets or anything you weren’t able to accomplish during college?

I haven’t won a national championship yet so that would be nice. I also wanted to get to see a little bit more of America. But , I’ve been really busy so I wasn’t able to.

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

Having a Slap

I say that a lot so the boys will understand. (When asked if that was an Australian thing, Tamir Hershko explained it was more of a Thomas thing than anything else.)

Role models?

I look up to my parents.

Greatest achievement?

Hopefully at the end of this year I can give you some nice answers like graduating and winning a national championship.

Although Thomas will be leaving UCI after the quarter,  he will have wonderful memories to look back on. From getting to play in front of 2,000-3,000 people in the Bren to living down in Newport Beach with his teammates, his time at UCI won’t be forgotten.