Swimming coach Tom Hodgson receives his Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame plaque at the induction ceremony Monday night. (Photo courtesy of Tom Hodgson)
Some college athletes have the privilege of training with a truly dedicated, self-sacrificing coach, but not all athletes get to see their coach receive the recognition he or she deserves.
Tom Hodgson, St. Thomas swimming coach, received this recognition Monday night when he was inducted into the 22nd annual Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame.
“I’m immensely flattered and very honored,” Hodgson said.
According to Hodgson, the Rochester Quarterbacks Club is an organization concerned with promoting Rochester sports and supporting the University of Minnesota.
The club honors four inductees each year for their contributions to the Rochester community and the sports world.
As a freshman, Hodgson made a cut-off time that enabled him to practice with the John Marshall High School swim team, he placed third in the Big Nine Conference championship and qualified for state by the end of the year.
“For somebody who was just beginning competitive swimming that was kind of… boom. Just very quick,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson’s career “just kept steamrolling” as he went on to win four state championships. In 1967, he won the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly. In 1968, he won the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle. He set records in the medley both years.
After attending Mayo High School for his last two years of high school, Hodgson graduated and went on to swim at the University of Minnesota.
“In college, I had another sort of explosion,” Hodgson said. “I dropped a whole bunch of time, and my sophomore year I broke the varsity record in the 400 individual medley and qualified for nationals.”
Hodgson also placed second on the all-time Gopher list in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.
Hodgson said he welcomed Monday night’s induction ceremony as an opportunity to thank his high school and college coaches, as well as his parents.
“(These people) played a significant role in my development as a swimmer, which was tied very closely to my development as a young man,” Hodgson said. “It really meant a lot to me to be able to express my thanks publicly to the people that really made a difference in my life.”
The person who made the biggest difference in Hodgson’s life was his mother, who he began his speech talking about. Hodgson called his mother his “first swimming mentor” but said he didn’t know anything about competitive swimming until he joined the junior high team.
Hodgson also said he really appreciated a group of Mayo High School physical education teachers that befriended him and “made an effort to eliminate the separation between teacher and student.”
“It was just one of those very affirming moments for an 18-year-old boy to have these people that I respected a great deal kind of welcome me in their circle a little bit,” Hodgson said.
Two of Hodgson’s St. Thomas colleagues, Athletic Director Steve Fritz and Assistant Athletic Director JoAnn Andregg, came to support him at the ceremony.
“I was so flattered and touched,” Hodgson said. “They’ve obviously been colleagues for 33 years, but over that time we’ve become very good friends.”
Andregg said she was happy to see Hodgson acknowledged in a public ceremony for his contributions.
“I like it when people are validated that way. You get a plaque, and this plaque stays on a wall in a public civic center,” Andregg said. “That’s a prideful moment.”
Also in attendance was Hodgson’s wife, brother, sisters and 97-year-old father.
According to Andregg, the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame does not only induct people who go into coaching.
“The point is that the lessons (the inductees) learned in athletics help them to get to wherever they are today,” Andregg said. “They want this to be an example to other people – (to) build on a successful athletic career.”
Hodgson has been coaching at St. Thomas for 33 seasons. His 2010 Tommie men’s team captured the program’s first MIAC title in 57 years, and the 2012 team added another conference team championship.
Hodgson has won six MIAC Coach of the Year honors and ranks among the longest tenured coaches in all MIAC sports.
During his time at St. Thomas, Hodgson has made a positive impression on the students he has coached.
Junior swimmer Kathleen Dempsey said Hodgson has “made swimming a positive experience for everyone on the team and has been “almost a father figure” for her.
Junior diver Jeff Isaacson agreed with Dempsey.
“I don’t think he could do a better job of creating a family (with) the swim team,” Isaacson said. “He’s always giving lessons, not just about swimming, but how to work together and what really matters. I feel like him getting this award is just a testament to all that he’s done.”
For Hodgson, the ceremony was a time of reflection.
“I have fewer days ahead in this profession than I have behind me,” Hodgson said. “It was… a very warm time of reflection on a profession and a sport that means a great deal in my life.”
Rita Kovtun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.