Army Greco star Jermaine Hodge s height doesn t weigh him down
Jermaine Hodge thinks outside the box.
He has to. He's 5'7'' and wrestles at 55 kg/121 lbs while most of his competitors are about four inches shorter.
"I have to embrace it with open arms. The challenge is you have to live wrestling. It includes outside the wrestling room. I had to give up things I loved in the past like soda, cake, etc. It's tough being taller. I have to cut as much weight as the shorter guys. That [making weight] should happen" said Hodge.
Embracing his height has worked well for Hodge, competing in multiple international tournaments in the past year.
"From last year to this year I've already competed in four to five international events. I'm trying to fit in as many international competitions as possible. ["¦] I'm in more matches and have smarter training" he said.
Hodge's training started all the way back when he was in 8th grade. In 9th grade he met a freestyle and Greco-Roman coach. After attending college at UNC-Pembroke, Hodge enlisted in the Army.
"I knew they had a program but I didn't know how to get in it. I was stationed in Korea for three months before coming to Colorado to train" he said.
That's where he met U.S. Army coach Shon Lewis.
"He brings energy and he knows that there were guys before him who got it done and he wants to continue that tradition for the Army and the United States" Lewis said.
For Hodge, carrying on the tradition of success means going to the Olympics in 2012. The game plan for that dream is simple in his mind.
"I'm taking it one match at a time. I want to win the Dave Schultz Memorial International, to win Nationals, to win the World Team Trials. All of it is preparation for 2012. There are other guys coming to the Army. It will help me, and it will help them" Hodge said.
New teammates for Hodge at his weight class will be 2008 Olympian Spenser Mango, ranked No. 1 at his weight on the national team and Nate Engel, ranked No. 3. Hodge holds a No. 2 national team ranking.
"He's a guy chasing medals. He's really excited about mixing it up with the best guys in the world" said Lewis.
Hodge is always looking for ways to improve, and getting into the Army's wrestling program has allowed him to learn a lot.
"[He's learned] discipline and dedication. He's becoming a student of the game and is learning the ins and outs of Greco-Roman" Lewis said.
Hodge is focused on the matches in the immediate future, using his desire to win and his competitiveness to set him apart from his opponents.
"The amount of weight I've cut and my desire to win is more than my competitors. There aren't a lot of differences to separate me from my competitors so I have to think outside of the box" he said.
Another way he thinks outside the box is when he thinks about his favorite match. Hodge said that his favorite match of all time came from a loss to fellow National team member Spencer Mango in the 2010 U.S Open finals. He says it was the "most intense match I've been in."
While he has a few years before he has to think about retiring, Hodge does have his future after wrestling planned out. And it's outside of the box too.
"My long term goal is a little different than everyone else. I want to help out coaching. Not be a head coach, just help out. I want to support my family. After the Army, I want to be a computer tech" said Hodge.
Hodge's next competition will be Saturday, January 29 at the Kiki Cup which is held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.