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How Perseverance Got Defensive End Zach Hodges To Harvard

How Perseverance Got Defensive End Zach Hodges To Harvard

We love stories of triumph and courage, because they make us believe in the resilience of the human spirit. The story of Zach Hodges and his dream of playing in the NFL is one such story.

Zach Hodges has persevered through circumstances that would have made others lose hope. He lost his father by age one, and his beloved grandfather and mother were both taken from him before he finished his junior year in high school.

His mother struggled to raise him after the death of his father and faced many challenges in the process. During that period of his life he faced homelessness, saw his mother suffer mental abuse at the hands of a stepfather, and often lacked the basic necessities of life. But these difficulties only served to make him more determined to succeed. 

What kept him going? As Hodges explains it, “Sometimes you don’t have an option but to keep moving and not stop.” So he never gave up on his education, and he never stopped playing football. It is this dogged persistence that got him to Harvard University, where he is now a defensive end. In 2013 Hodges was the Ivy League’s defensive player of the year, a title he again earned in 2014 but shared with Mike Zeuli of Princeton.

The tragedies Hodges faced in life made him continue during those times when the odds seemed stacked against him. Football became his outlet, and his ability to express himself on the field has earned him the admiration of Tim Murphy, his coach at Harvard University.

Hodges dreams of playing in the NFL someday, and believes he will get there. It’s a belief shared by coach Murphy. According to Murphy, “I think in time, Zach will be a successful NFL player. He has the ability, he has the toughness. The only variable is time.”

Further reading: Harvard Prospect Zach Hodges Overcomes His Painful Past


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