Junior Teddy Hodges (seen here competing during the 2008-09 season) has returned to the Notre Dame campus after successful heart transplant surgery last fall.

Heart Of A Champion

Feb. 12, 2010

By Tara Hunt
Sports Information Student Assistant

After battling a rare virus and recovering from a heart transplant, fencer Teddy Hodges returned to campus for the first time Feb. 6-7 to watch the Irish compete in the Notre Dame Duals.

“It was a good experience. I was just so happy to see everyone on campus, all the teammates, all the friends, all the family. It’s hard to describe,” Hodges said about his return.

Hodges was hospitalized June 5 at the Mid-America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s in Kansas City, Mo. after suffering from a stroke. The stroke was a result of the viral myocarditis, a rare infection that attacked his heart.

A three-month stay in the Intensive Care Unit without much success prompted a recommendation for a heart transplant, Hodges said.

“There were a lot of pumps and so much technology to keep my vitals alive. But my heart just wasn’t happening so they wanted me to try to get better and better and do a little light working out,” he said.

“After spending the three month saga in the ICU I didn’t know if I was going to be in there another month, another year, I didn’t know,” Hodges said. “It was really sudden; they got the heart offer and they said they were going to transplant me and it was another week, and it seemed really quick.”


Teddy Hodges (center) talks with teammates Diego Silva and Beatriz Almeida at last weekend’s Notre Dame Duals



The successful transplant was done on Sept. 16 at St. Luke’s Hospital. Since then, Hodges has been recovering at home, attending check-ups and preparing for his anticipated return to campus in the fall.

Even away from campus though, his team has remained an important part of his recovery.

“[My teammates] have been great, all the prayers and cards, and they sent me our team flag. They hung it up in the ICU and it was a big deal for me,” Hodges said. “I was obviously out of it, but initially they drove up in the first couple days to be with me and it was awesome. It was a big part of my mental recovery too. That’s Notre Dame. My goal was always to come back here.”

He returned last Saturday with the team flag raised above his head, ready to cheer on the Irish as they competed. He had the added bonus of seeing his brother, freshman Grant Hodges, post a 16-0 record on the day for the Notre Dame foil squad.


Hodges served as an inspiration to his teammates, with both the Irish men’s and women’s teams posting 11-0 records at the Notre Dame Duals to complete perfect regular seasons.



Teddy’s official return is scheduled for the fall semester of 2010 where he will continue as both a student and an athlete.

“Obviously with the stroke and everything I’m pretty out of shape so I don’t know about the big [fencing] tournaments but we’ll see if it will work out. I’ll just work out a lot this summer and practice and we’ll see,” Hodges said about his future with the Fighting Irish fencing team.

Hodges also intends on attending summer school to prepare for his senior year at Notre Dame.


Last weekend’s return was made even more special for Hodges, as he and his parents watched his younger brother, Grant, go 16-0 in the foil competition.



“I’ll take care of the academics first and then stay active, and just have fun,” he said.

“I’m most excited for hanging out in the sweaty, dank, fencing gym and seeing all my friends and teammates, and being a college student, and to feel normal,” Hodges said. “Obviously it’s been nice with all the prayers and the people around me so supportive of everything. But it will be good to go back to normal.”

His normalcy on campus began last weekend, accordingly, with fencing.

“It’s just a great feeling and I’m so happy and joyous just watching fencing again. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a great moment,” Hodges said.

Hodges is currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters as an English major. He has given thought to life after graduation but remains undecided.

“Being around the hospital I feel almost at home there in some part, but I love English and writing,” Hodges said. “I’m still thinking.”

— ND —