Billy Hodges is someone who has made a remarkably positive impact on Swarthmore’s local soccer community by contributing to overall development the Swarthmore Soccer Club, which is why it is a great honor to introduce him as this month’s AAA Share Your Journey Contest winner.
“I love soccer because you can continue to pursue the beautiful game forever, and try and get better, and at least in the environment where I play it’s a wonderful place to feel that out. It’s also fun to coach because I have really learned a lot about my kids by being a coach and learning about their friends and learning by seeing them through multiple ages, how different ages really are distinct,” Hodges said.
Hodges’ involvement with soccer and the Swarthmore Soccer Club has evolved into a rewarding opportunity to connect with his own family. Both he and his wife have helped coach all four of their children at SSC. The Hodges have already coached two of their daughters through high school, and are still actively involved in coaching the youngest one and their only son at SSC today.
“My youngest is at an age when the girls are very smart, they are very cognitive on the field, and they are playing above what anyone would give them credit for given their experience. They are very thoughtful about how they move around the field and it’s great because when they become teenagers, some of that goes out the window,” Hodges added. “They get distracted and lose focus a lot more easily, so it’s a really rewarding time right now that I have experienced before with our other daughters and now our son. We are really excited to see our youngest go through that process.”
While he may be admired by many kids as a coach, Hodges’ playing career is far from over. In a uniquely fascinating way, his time playing pick-up soccer in Swarthmore has allowed him the opportunity to interact with people from around the world on a field located less than a mile from home.
“For me personally, soccer brought me to this pick-up game in Swarthmore, which is incredibly international and I think it’s an incredible bonding environment. That’s I think one of the special things about the Swarthmore men’s group – that has been playing close to 25 years I think – and it’s always been very open and welcome and multicultural, as well as generational. It’s been a very interesting and fun cross section of people who all are out there to really just have a good time,” Hodges said.
As a member of the Sons of Ben and a season ticket holder since Philadelphia’s inaugural campaign in 2010, Hodges is a longtime fan and supporter of Philadelphia Union. He was also heavily involved in the founding of Sons of Benjamin West, which is a supporters club for local soccer clubs located in the Swarthmore area.
“At the time that we created the Sons of Benjamin West, most of us had young kids and were really in a position where we were looking for the more family-friend end of the stadium and we became soccer friends… and we loved the atmosphere on this end, we loved being able to see the river, we loved seeing the ships go by, and we loved the ability to bring our kids to the stadium” Hodges said.
Sons of Benjamin West has an interesting history behind the club’s name too, given that the inspiration behind its title came from the American painter Benjamin West, who was an early founder of Swarthmore, PA more than 200 years ago.
“Since it’s a Swarthmore-centered group, and Swarthmore is west of Philadelphia, we sit in the west end of the stadium if the river is north-south, and Benjamin West was one of the founders of Swarthmore and he was a painter and his style known as epic representation. So, that is our tagline, ‘Epic Representation’,” Hodges said.
This story is part of AAA’s “Start Your Journey” campaign, an effort – in partnership with the Union – to help celebrate families’ journeys in support of their young athletes…the long road trips, all-weekend tournaments, and the special bonds that are formed from the extensive time on the road. Each month, the Philadelphia Union and AAA will select an individual within its soccer network to develop a feature story on their path to success in association with the game of soccer. Additionally, fans are encouraged to share their own stories via social media using #ShareYourJourney.