Staff Photo: John Bohn Jed Hodges is coach of the Mill Creek girls track team.
Jed Hodges, 52, is the head girls track and field coach at Mill Creek. Hodges has been at Mill Creek since the school opened in 2004 and also coaches football.
A 1980 Jenkins County grad, Hodges received his bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Tennessee-Martin in 1984.
Hodges and his wife Barbara have three children -- Robert, 24, Holly Beth, 20 and Ashley, 16.
In this latest installment of "Getting To Know ... ," Hodges talks to staff writer Brandon Brigman about the progress of the track team, teaching weight training and growing up in Jenkins County.
BB: It hasn't been the best weather for track practice this week. Is it hard to get kids motivated to run when it's cold and wet like this?
JH: You would think it would be, but we had it rain on us last week and we had 127 girls at practice. Most of the time, these kids know we are going to practice. They'll ask 'are we running a meet?' They come on and they like it.
BB: Mill Creek has steadily climbed up the ranks in the region. Is this the year y'all win the region title?
JH: Well, we have been coming up a little bit. There's always been that stopping block with Peachtree Ridge. My goodness what a team they put out last year. I surely hope we can challenge for it. I don't like bragging or anything like that, so I don't want anyone to get fodder from me. I really would like for us to challenge. We have to do a few things before we can really do that. I think we were third last year, but everyone was a long way behind Peachtree Ridge.
BB: Do you feel like if you are successful in the county and region it will translate at the sectional and state meets?
JH: Yeah, yeah. Malayshia (George) was region champion in several things and she did well at the state meet. Some of the other girls did some good stuff. Gwinnett is going to represent pretty well. We're not the only track county, though. Martin Luther King and people like that, McEachern, they have a heck of a team.
BB: You teach weight training at Mill Creek. Do you still work out?
JH: Not as much as I used to. It hurts (laughs). It hurts now. I'll lift some now when I have a chance, but it's not regular.
BB: Did you have a big weight training background growing up?
JH: No, my high school didn't have weights. My brother was playing college football and he told me 'Bubba, you better get to work.' We went to a gym in Statesboro and started lifting weights for the first time after my senior year of football. We would drive over there three or four nights a week to work out.
BB: How has weight training changed from back then to what you guys are doing now?
JH: Well, back then it was nothing. It was mostly calisthenics. We did a lot of pushups and things like that at football practice. But other than that there was none. To me, it's 100 percent changed. I do believe, I guess because I am older, but some of things we started with are still the best stuff. Down deep I really believe that. Just the core lifts and all the stuff like that. All this other stuff with the bands and straps and chains and all that stuff, it's a benefit, but it's not the big thing.
BB: What was it like growing up in Jenkins County?
JH: Three sports in the high school. I was the world's worst basketball player. I didn't go out for basketball because they are really good and I never would have played. I played football, played baseball. I could not hit the baseball at all. I couldn't see it. Most of the stuff we did on the weekends was hanging around at the Dairy Queen parking lot. You would hang around before you went on your date, went on your date, came back and hung around for another hour or two after it. That was Friday and Saturday and sometimes Sunday night.
BB: Where was the place you would go for your dates?
JH: Statesboro. You would drive to Statesboro unless you were dating an Emmanuel County girl and then you had to drive to Swainsboro. There was nothing here.
BB: So the girls state track meet in Albany is like going home for you?
JH: No, Albany is a whole another world from Jenkins County. We never went to Albany, that's way down South. Jenkins County is over near Augusta. There's nothing like Albany.
BB: You also coach defensive line for the football team. Did you teach South Carolina signee Kelsey Griffin everything he knows?
JH: Every bit (laughs). No, Kelsey, I picked Kelsey out in seventh-grade. I saw him and started working on him. At the time, I was tight ends coach and I put him at tight end. He looked out of place at tight end, but whatever it took to have him in my group I did. Coach (Shannon) Jarvis saw fit to let me do that. It's been a good four years.
BB: Your daughter Holly Beth turns 21 on Saturday, but you have a track meet that day. How do you balance the two?
JH: Well, she's coming Friday. She's turning 21, so she wants to get back to Athens. I'm a little worried about that. She's coming Friday and we're going to spend Friday evening with her and she's heading back.
BB: Do you like the different pace of track compared to football?
JH: Track is a lot more laid back compared to football for me. I need that. There's no way I could do football type mentality all year long. There's no way. So it does help me to have a big change.
BB: How long do you see yourself at Mill Creek?
JH: I'll be here until they close it. I like it here. It's the best school I have ever worked at overall, bar none. I like it here. I hope they want me to stay around that long.