Monday, March 01, 2004

http://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/la-sp-sondheimercol29feb29,0,474041.story?coll=la-headlines-sports-highschool

MaX Hodge (My Son) in the news:

Times Headlines

For Some, Leadership Transcends Football Field


HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

OAK PARK HIGH SCHOOL
HIGH SCHOOLS

Eric Sondheimer
For those who wonder what all the fuss is about playing high school football, meet Max Hodge, an offensive lineman from Oak Park.

"He came in as a kid, and he's leaving as a man," Coach Dick Billingsley said.

As a freshman, Hodge weighed 165 pounds. Now he's a 240-pound senior.

"He was one of the quietest kids on campus," Billingsley said. "He's turned into a very dynamic person. He's probably been the best leader we've had in 14 years. He's really blossomed, grown and matured."

On Thursday, Hodge will be among 54 football players honored for academic and athletic excellence by the San Fernando Valley chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Dozens of players from Orange County, the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire will receive recognition in the next two weeks at banquets throughout the Southland.

Each recipient has a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and has demonstrated outstanding campus leadership.

Hodge more than fits the bill of a future mover and shaker. He and some friends have spent months preparing to shoot a student film about World War II and Iwo Jima. He co-wrote the script after conducting extensive research.

"We're all interested in becoming writers or actors and all like World War II movies," he said. "It was probably the deadliest invasion America has been in. For a while, it was the most densely populated island in the world."

Hodge and his friends have been gathering resources, identifying locations, developing special effects and coming up with props. This month, they'll begin a four-month shooting schedule.

Hodge, who plans to attend Claremont-Mudd, seems destined to become a writer.

"I take as many English classes as I can," he said. "I love to write. I like to write stories. I like to write poetry. Even essays are fun, if it's the right topic."

Hodge, who also plays the tuba, would need no encouragement to write about what football has meant to him.

"It's given me a lot more order, a lot more discipline, a set of values I truly appreciate," he said. "My experiences with football at Oak Park I'd trade for nothing in the world. They're too valuable to making me the person I am."

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