Ted Hodges took to the strip for the first time with the Irish since returning from a heroic recovery from successful heart transplant surgery.

Irish Fencer Teddy Hodges Fights On

Sept. 23, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As a fencer, Teddy Hodges is used to battling it out on the strip, breaking down opponents with tactical awareness and then taking decisive action. But now the Salina, Kan. native is in a fight for his life after contracting a rare virus that attacked his heart.

Hodges received a heart transplant on Sept. 16 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. He had been hospitalized since June 5 at the Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s, suffering from viral myocarditis, an infection that targeted his heart. He had two heart pumps installed in June and had been awaiting a transplant since that time.

“Through Teddy’s courageous fight for his life, he has truly taught us what it means to be one of the Fighting Irish,” says teammate and junior All-America sabreist Barron Nydam. “Whether on the strip or in life, with the odds being great or small, we must fight until we have no more to give because if we do, miracles might just happen.”

On the strip, Hodges is known as a tough-minded competitor who provides depth and athleticism for the Notre Dame foil squad. The one-time walk-on defensive back with the University of Kansas football team (in 2006) transferred to Notre Dame prior to his sophomore year and was subsequently reunited with his Kanza Fencing Center club coach, Gia Kvaratskhelia, now an assistant at Notre Dame.

Off the strip, Hodges is seen as a great teammate with a contagious sense of humor and the ability to keep his teammates loose but focused, an especially important quality in the tension-ridden sport of fencing.

“There is literally no one else on the team who comes to practice every day with as positive and humorous an attitude and infects everyone around him,” says junior foilist Steve Kubik.

Through two years with the Irish, Hodges has posted an impressive 62-17 (.785) record including a 25-7 (.781) mark a season ago. He has developed into a very sound technical fencer who rises to the challenge in marquee bouts. As a junior, he went 6-2 at the NYU Invitational and finished with a perfect 8-0 record at the Northwestern Duals, including a 3-0 mark against Northwestern and 2-0 marks against both Wayne State and Lawrence. Hodges also posted a 10-4 record at the Notre Dame Duals. In the postseason, he finished 17th at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships.

“Teddy is one of our most intelligent, coachable and friendly athletes. He is a fighter on the strip but a brother to the opponent after a fierce bout,” says head coach Janusz Bednarski. “He is a true Notre Dame student-athlete with great Fighting Irish character.”

Hodges began fencing at the age of 10. He had a strong showing at the 2005 USFA Summer Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., as part of four-fencer team (including Kvaratskhelia) that won the open men’s foil title. Hodges also posted a seventh-place (out of 143 entrants) finish in the cadet/U-17 individual event and finished 11th in junior/U-20 bouting (field of 125). Hodges had another strong showing at the 2005 Junior Olympics in Arlington, Texas, placing 32nd (in field of 253 U-20 men’s foilists).

While in high school, Hodges was also a star on the football field. He was the starting safety for Salina Central High School football team and helped the squad to back-to-back state titles in 2004 and ’05. He earned all-league honors in football as junior, all-county and all-metro honors as a senior. Hodges helped cap an undefeated senior season on the football field by making an interception in closing minutes of the state title game to preserve a 29-21 win over rival Blue Valley Stillwell.

The Irish routinely travel to the Grotto to light candles for their teammate and Bednarski begins each practice with updates on Hodges’ health. In an added show of support for one of its most supportive members, the 2009-10 fencing team has decided to wear specially made wristbands during all their bouts that read, “Ted’s Team: We Stand Beside You.”

“Over the past few seasons, Teddy Hodges has been, simply put, an amazing athlete, teammate and friend for everyone on the team,” Kubik concludes.

The son of Merle and Melissa Hodges, Teddy is enrolled at Notre Dame in the College of Arts & Letters as an English major.

— ND —