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Wolf at the Door

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Connersville’s Emily Hodson collects a serve receive in a dual inside the CHS gymnasium against New Castle on Aug. 28, 2018. Hodsonwill be moving up in the volleyball ranks this year, as she will suit up for Indiana University East.
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Emily Hodson shows her form on an assist inside the Connersville High School gymnasium last season in a scrimmage against Cambridge City Lincoln. Hodson will play college volleyball this year for the Lady Red Wolves at IU East.
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Connersville’s Emily Hodson (fourth from left) signed a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Indiana University East during the 2019-20 season. From left: IU East head coach Kim McConaha, dad Chad Hudson, mom Sandra Hodson, Emily Hodsonand former CHS head volleyball coach Torrie Whitmore.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

A Lady Spartan at Connersville High School for the past two years, Emily Hodson is about to put on a new uniform and represent a new mascot — the IU East Lady Red Wolves.

A volleyball player for the Lady Spartans through her junior and senior years (she played at Community Christian as a freshman and sophomore), Hodson signed a letter-of-intent to continue her playing days at the Richmond college.

It was a signature that the Red Wolves nearly didn’t get.

“I was considering other schools, places like Defiance (Ohio), Mount St. Joseph’s (Ohio), and Marion (Indianapolis),” she said. “I had pretty much eliminated IU East.”

Sometimes, however, life can step in and totally change the direction that someone feels they need to go.

“Right around that time, I switched club teams, and the coach of my new team was Kim McConaha,” Hodson said. 

The significance of that was simple. McConaha was head coach for IU East women’s volleyball.

“I really developed a strong relationship with her, and then met some of the girls from the school,” the 18-year-old said. “They all treated me so well, and after that, everything fell into place.”

One of the sticking points for the CHS senior was that she felt that Richmond might be a little too close to Connersville. But even those thoughts evaporated, once she saw the campus.

“I really liked the apartments that they have for the students, and I was actually happy that my parents would be able to see me play much more often,” she said.

A volleyball player all the way back to her elementary school days — she said that she began to develop a taste for the sport in gym class — it wasn’t long before she was playing in the club ranks.

“I really liked the fact that the game is very much team-oriented. It’s never about just you, but rather everyone on the court around you, as well,” she said. “It’s a sport that requires fast reflexes, but also one that teaches you never to get down on yourself.

“Even when mistakes are made, you can never dwell on them. You just have to move on to the next play and try to do better. That’s a lesson that has helped me not only on the court, but in my personality, as well.”

By the time she had moved from Community Christian to CHS, thoughts of playing beyond high school began to enter her thoughts.

“My junior year was about the time that I started seriously considering playing on the college level,” she said. “It was about then that we started filming and putting together highlight videos. That was also when I started contacting coaches.”

While those contacts certainly didn’t hurt, Hodson’s performance, particularly throughout her senior campaign on the court, spoke volumes and more than likely would have gotten her noticed, anyway.

In 2018, playing in 208 sets, the Spartan hitter finished with 201 kills, second best on the team (by only two). From the service line, she was also second on the team with 42 aces.

A further display of her all-around talent was that she finished with 222 digs, best on the team, with the exception of the libero. Her 251 serve receives were also second to only the team’s defensive specialist. As she prepares to take those skills to college, Hodson knows there are many to thank, those who helped pave the road for her.

“I want to thank Don Crum, who was my coach in middle school,” she said. “He is the one who really pushed me to play club volleyball, and that helped change a lot.

“I also have to thank my parents and family, who have been my support group throughout the years.

“Coach McConaha has been a big influence as well. She has been very open to helping me improve in every aspect of the game. She has always been willing to do whatever it took to get me playing in college, even it if wasn’t for her.”

While her road to college is now behind her, the daughter of Sandra and Chad knows that there are others still working their way along that road.

For those girls, she offers some advice.

“Always show up to practice early, and make sure you give more effort than everyone else, as that matters,” she said. “Never be too hard on yourself and try to have as much fun as you can. Most importantly, always remember why you are playing the game.”

For Hodson, those words are more than just guidance.

It’s an attitude she has developed while growing up in the game.

But it’s even more than that.

It’s also a mind-set that has helped make at least one of her dreams come true.