TJ Hodges: AS President and XC runner
From all outward appearances, a typical day for student athlete and Associated Students President, TJ Hodges, would seem insanely busy. A captain this year on the University of San Diego men’s cross country team, Hodges finds that, while his schedule might appear to be overwhelming a lot, he loves every part of what he does.
Walking through a weekday, Hodges has early morning practice for two to two and a half hours. Then, he has about two or three meetings with other council presidents and officials at USD. Depending on the day, he either has a few more meetings or an hour or so to work in his office. Then he has meetings around campus regarding various different student affairs.
At this point in the day, Hodges will meet with a dean or other major USD officials to try and get his big projects off the ground. This only takes us to about noon.
“I had done AS before and was active in my high school student council,” Hodges said. “So it’s something I’ve always been interested in, and I know what to expect. I took a break during my sophomore [year] to be an RA, and I think that helped me immensely to be prepared for what might happen as president and, really, how to be directly involved and communicate with students.”
The last time USD had a student athlete president was 21 years ago in 1995. As many student athletes, and even the average college students in general, would know, finding time to balance academics with extracurriculars can be quite the challenge. Hodges says that he has found support from his athletic teammates and within the AS office.
“From the first time I was thinking of running, and continually now, all my teammates on the cross country team have been extremely supportive,” Hodges said. “And now the vibe here with the AS team is great. Both the cross country team and everyone here knows that I might be on one end of campus having a tough practice or on the total opposite end holding office hours. I get support from all areas of campus, and I haven’t had that ‘agh’ moment yet where I feel overwhelmed.”
Hodges said that he feels it’s easier for him to plan his days and his workload because his obligations balance each other out. He expressed that he genuinely appreciates how encouraging and supportive his cross country teammates were toward him in initially running and how supportive they continue to be during his presidency.
Hodges expressed that this idea of a tightly knit team and a collective togetherness filters over into Hodges’ presidential policies and how he’d like to see the USD community shaped during his time in office. He has three main goals: changing how USD approaches student finances, creating an opportunity for a conversational forum where students can discuss their views and opinions on diversity, and placing a stonger emphasis on inclusion and USD community spirit.
“I really want to see a change in how USD approaches the financial weight students are facing,” Hodges said. “I’d like to see a creative way to unite and decrease how much students are paying for the most basic things they need, like textbooks. Our Vice President, Danielle Priore, is heading an initiative to get a textbook reserve going for the general education classes that everyone needs to take as a prerequisite. Being a student too, I understand how everything can just add up so quickly.”
Hodges stated that he firmly believes we are all Toreros, so he wants to see students involved on campus. Whether that be cheering on Toreros at sporting events or attending the free lectures and functions USD often schedules, Hodges said that students can help create a more cohesive USD community.
With this kind of united community identity, Hodges expressed that he feels a discourse on diversity will promote more inclusion and allow students to be respectful and understanding.
Hodges has set out these goals because he wants to hear a little more from the student body. For Hodges, the initial response from students in communication with AS is alright, but he said he doesn’t know what students who don’t often speak up are thinking. Each past AS president has had his or her own style of being present on campus. Hodges stated that his aim is just to be among the student body and to always be approachable.
“Each president has had a different style when [they were] in office,” Hodges said. “The school doesn’t necessarily require or mandate I be at particular events. I definitely allocate time for the administration, but I want to appear among the student body. I’m trying to be an example by going to volleyball or soccer games, by showing up at the free lectures, trying to motivate the students to come out and just enjoy everything this school has to offer because it’s actually a lot. Instead of calling it school spirit, I like to use the term ‘community spirit’ because that’s what we all are, the community of Toreros.”
Hodges, using running as his balance, expressed that he wouldn’t be able to manage his life if he didn’t have running or if he didn’t have the structure and demands academia and the presidency requires of him.
Hodges said that he loves the relationships he forms on the team and uses running as a measure of what he is capable of, not only athletically but also mentally.
“A lot of people ask me how I balance everything,” Hodges said. “I honestly think I need both cross country and this presidency to balance everything. I would go insane without either at the end of it. You’re most vulnerable a third of the way through the race. That’s when you really know how far and how fast and how hard you can go. The people around me, this student body and my teammates give me that support everyday, so I can really test those limits and see what I’m capable of.”
This year marks a historical year for the USD cross country team. The Toreros held their home invite meet last weekend for the first time in five years. They finished fourth overall. This year the Toreros will also be hosting the West Coast Conference (WCC) championships, a first ever for USD.
If you’d like to see our president run, and want to cheer on his Torero teammates to get that community spirit going, the next home meet will be the WCC championship on Oct. 28 in Mission Bay at 10 a.m.
Written by Dylan Brockmeyer, Contributor