Belmont track and field star Griffin Hodge's positivity is infectious.
The senior standout is a key piece in the Bruins’ puzzle when it comes to putting together a championship season. His lighthearted mentality and enthusiastic attitude bring out the best in his teammates.
“Everyone who knows Griffin loves Griffin,” said fellow senior thrower Bo Miller. “His laughs and smiles are contagious to the rest of the team.”
The Nashville native is not just a team favorite, he is a key contributor for the Bruins, consistently racking up points at the conference meet.
The sprint star turned javelin ace takes huge motivation from his teammates’ success.
“I love training with the team and just seeing the team progress,” said Hodge. “I have always been a fan of relays because that’s something you can really celebrate with the team.”
Hodge's baseball background and desire to be a team player is what fueled his shift from sprints to javelin.
“Coach asked me to do javelin my freshman year because I did baseball in high school,” said Hodge. “I ended up doing better, so coach and I thought, ‘let's prioritize javelin.’”
But the transition wasn’t as seamless as it looked on paper.
“I had him come out to a couple of javelin practices, and he was terrible,” said throws coach Joe Frye. “I was thinking: ‘this really isn’t going to work out.’”
But a fourth place finish at the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Championships was enough for Coach Frye to be encouraged by Hodge’s grit and recognize the potential.
Making it this far in the sport is something Hodge never dreamed of, and in high school, track and field wasn’t even his main motivation.
But track and field has always been a family affair for the Hodge family.
Throughout middle school, his mother was his track coach and she sparked his interest in the sport.
“Her favorite sport was track,” said Hodge. “She was the motivator in me even trying track in the first place.”
Despite his success in high school, Hodge considered hanging up his spikes at the end of his senior year at Brentwood Academy.
But a visit to Belmont made him realize his career wasn’t over just yet .
“I can always go and do something else but I never will have the opportunity to come back and try track after I quit,” said Hodge. “Belmont was the school that I felt most at home and there were a lot of guys on the team like me in the sense of having a similar work ethic.”
Hodge’s work ethic and attention to detail have developed him into a fierce competitor and a role model for those around him.
“I think I’m an encourager,” said Hodge. “I always bring a positive attitude each day and I'm ready to work.”
His positive mindset and eagerness to improve enables Hodge to see the fruits of his labor and it's this progression that has kept him engaged over the years.
“Individually seeing yourself progress with practice and with meets is where I really started to find motivation,” he said.
Through his academic pursuits as a finance major, Hodge’s “gamer” mentality has been nurtured.
Belmont encouraged him to get out of his comfort zone and try new things, he said.
Now a senior and successful in his collegiate career, Hodge has his gaze set on what the future holds.
“I would love to find a job that makes an impact on people for the good,” he said. “I would like to be able to use some of the skills that I developed throughout college.”
Whether it's time management or resilience, Belmont track and field has prepared him for professional life, Hodge said.
Still, his journey at Belmont hasn't quite run its course, as the all-important outdoor conference meet is just around the corner.
For Hodge it's one more opportunity to leave his positive impact on the program, and one last time to brace the javelin runway.
PHOTO: Griffin Hodge competing for Belmont on the field. Belmont Athletics
This article was written by Finn Birnie. Contributory Reporting by A.J. Wuest