Former Georgia Southern University football assistant coach Mike Hodges was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June 2 in Dalton.
The Hall of Fame, located at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center, included Hodges in its 12th class, which also named former Thomson coach, Luther Welsh, who passed away last July, to the illustrious body.
Hodges joined elite company which includes legendary Valdosta coaches Wright Bazemore and Nick Hyder, former Warner Robins and Westside/Macon coach Robert Davis, and former Screven County basketball coach Harold Lee Scott.
Hodges had an illustrious playing career for the Warren County Blue Devils from 1963-66 and was a part of state championships in 1965 and 1966, as well as a state runner-up team in 1964. The combined record of Warrenton during that period was 36-8-2, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. Hodges was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Class C All-State team in both 1965 and 1966 as a tight end and outside linebacker.
After graduating from Warren County High School in 1967, Hodges attended Emory University, and after graduating in 1971 he planned to attend dental school. However, a chance meeting with Ray Lamb, his high school coach, who stopped in Warrenton to visit after accepting the head coaching job in Commerce, altered that career path.
Lamb asked Hodges to visit him in Commerce and discuss taking a job teaching science, and trying his hand in coaching, while taking a break from college before entering dental school.
“I taught a full load of science and coached football, girls basketball, and baseball as Coach Lamb always knew how to get his money’s worth," Hodges said. "I fell in love with coaching.”
Hodges coached for Lamb in Commerce until 1978, when he took his first football head coaching job at Miller County, guiding the team to a 10-2 record.
Hodges then succeeded the legendary Nick Hyder at West Rome when Hyder took over at Valdosta High. At West Rome, Hodges won back-to-back state titles in 1982 and 1983, with perfect 15-0 records in each season.
In 1984, Hodges moved to Thomasville, where he had great success. He won his third state title in 1988, again going 15-0. After the 1989 season, Hodges left Thomasville and joined Tim Stowers’ staff at Georgia Southern as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. The Eagles won a national championship in 1990. Hodges remained at Georgia Southern through the 1996 season.
Hodges returned to the high school ranks in 1997 as head coach of the Cairo Syrupmakers. He retired after the 1999 season after leading Cairo to the state semifinals at the Georgia Dome, losing to eventual state champion Oconee County.
In 15 seasons, Hodges produced a combined record of 149-35-3. His teams won three state titles, six region championships and he led his teams to the semifinals seven times. He never had a losing season as a head coach.
Hodges briefly returned to coaching as an assistant at Brookwood Academy and Thomasville when his son, Clay, played at those schools.
Other honors attributed to Hodges were serving as a board member and past president of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association. He participated in the GACA North-South All-Star game as both an assistant and a head coach. He was an assistant coach in the Georgia-Florida All-Star game, and was named State Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club in 1978, 1982 and 1983.
Hodges received the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Coach of the Year Award in the aforementioned seasons and in 1988.
“It’s a great honor to recognized by my peers in this way," Hodges said of his induction. "In reflection, I was always lucky to have fine players and outstanding assistant coaches. I also was privileged to work in communities with great educational leaders and where the people considered athletics important.”
Hodges and his wife, Deloris, live in Thomasville. For the past 23 years he has conducted the Mike Hodges Football Camps held annually at Middle Georgia College.
The GACA chose to recognize Hodges not only for his outstanding record, but because his service and dedication proved to make the difference in the lives of thousands of student-athletes across the state of Georgia.