Saturday, April 30, 2005
By Mike Ballard
Basketball has taken Dale Hodges all over the globe, but the former St. Joseph’s University All-American now has a new home court in Camden.
Hodges, a 1990 St. Joseph’s graduate who has played professional basketball on three continents, in addition to coaching on the collegiate level, has been named as the head coach of the Rutgers University-Camden women’s basketball team. Hodges follows Joe Baker Jr., who was promoted from assistant to the interim head coach this past season after head coach Jackie Trakimas left to take a coaching and teaching job at Lindenwold High School. Baker will remain on Hodges’ new staff as the recruiting coordinator.
“I’m excited,” said Hodges, who served as the interim head coach of Arcadia University last season and served single seasons as an assistant at Drexel University and the University of Massachusetts between her playing career. “I like to coach. I just finished playing and I think I have a lot to offer. When you play a long time you’re like a student of the game.
“We’re going to work hard. Everybody knows you get out of things what you put into them. Nothing comes easy. You have to sacrifice.”
Hodges’ hard work and sacrifice on the basketball court literally took her far, as she circled the globe playing the sport she loves. A former Parade All-American at Trenton Central High School, Hodges went on to have an outstanding basketball career at Saint Joseph’s University.
Hodges led the Hawks in scoring, rebounding and blocks all three seasons she played at Saint Joseph’s University (1988-90), becoming the only player to accomplish that feat. She also paced the team in steals during her final two years. Her remarkable run helped her earn First Team All-Big Five and All-Atlantic 10 honors every season. During her junior (1989) and senior (1990) seasons, she was honored as the A-10 and Big Five Player of the Year, leading the leagues in scoring each season. An A-10 Player of the Week 15 times, she led the Hawks to three NCAA Tournaments, including the second round twice. She also helped Saint Joseph’s win the Big Five title in both 1988 and 1990.
Hodges averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds as a junior, when she made the first of her two consecutive All-District squads.
Hodges capped her brilliant career averaging 27.6 points (third nationally) and 12.0 rebounds (13th nationally) as a senior, earning a trio of First Team All-American honors on the Kodak, USWBA and Naismith teams.
Hodges holds numerous Saint Joseph’s University records, including the career mark of 1,049 rebounds. She also ranks second on the career charts for points (2,077) and blocked shots (95) and holds single-game marks for both points (42) and rebounds (21).
The only female athlete in Saint Joseph’s University history to have her uniform number (44) retired, she was inducted into both the Philadelphia Big Five and Saint Joseph’s basketball Hall of Fames in 1996. She also joined the Saint Joseph’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.
A Sociology major who graduated Saint Joseph’s in 1990, Hodges continued her outstanding basketball career at the professional level, playing all around the world from 1990-95 and 1997-2004, interrupted by single years as an assistant at Drexel and at UMass.
Hodges played with teams in Italy (Busto Arsizio and Messina), Spain (Zaragosa, Cadi La Seu D’urgell and Vigo), Japan (Moriguchi), France (Aix En Provence, Tarbes and Bordeaux), South Korea (Seoul) and Russia (Novsabirsk). She also played with the New England Blizzard of the ABL and represented the United States on the Jones Cup team in Taiwan (1988 silver medalists), the World University Games in Sheffield England (1991 gold medalists) and the Senior National Pan American Qualifying Team (1997 silver medalists).
“It’s an awesome experience,” said Hodges about her professional career. “You’re doing something you love to do, traveling the world and getting paid to do it. The game is the same. It doesn’t change, no matter what the language is. Every place I’ve been, I’ve found something positive in it.”
Hodges participated in the Olympic Trials in both 1988 and 1992 and played on an Under-21 National Team European Tour to Yugoslavia and Russia. Her final professional season, as well, was spent in Russia. She retired from pro ball in 2004.
“Playing a lot, I hope the girls see I’m qualified to do this job,” she said. “I didn’t get this knowledge out of the book. I’m qualified. Coaching and playing are different, but I’ve walked in their shoes.”
In addition to her collegiate coaching stints, Hodges also has served as a basketball camp counselor at numerous camps throughout the Eastern United States.
A resident of Philadelphia, Hodges works as a teacher in Philadelphia schools (elementary school through high school) with the Best Program, conducting emotional support classes.
“We’re lucky to have somebody with her background and ability,” said Rutgers-Camden Director of Athletics Jeff Dean. “She’s excited to be here. We’re fortunate to have her and we’re excited to have her. I think she’s going to have an immediate impact on our program.”