Gerald Hodgin Won Five Prep Football State Title Rings During 50-Year Coaching Career in Brevard County
By Tommy Cook // April 15, 2022
5 RINGS: key contributor with dynasty programs Merritt Island in 1970s and Cocoa in 2000s
ABOVE VIDEO: Gerald Hodgin Won Five Prep Football State Title Rings During 50-Year Coaching Career in Brevard County.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – During his 50 years coaching high school football in Brevard County Coach Gerald Hodgin earned five state championship rings as a key contributor on five state championship teams with dynasty programs Merritt Island during the 1970s and Cocoa in the 2000s.
Hodgin was born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1942, and graduated from Butler High School in Huntsville, Alabama where he played linebacker and guard on the football team and was on the track and field team.
Hodgin then attended Middle Tennesee State on a football scholarship. During his freshman year, he suffered a serious knee injury that ended his playing career.
He then attended Florence State, now the University of North Alabama, where he graduated in 1963.
Hodgin began teaching and coaching football, basketball, track and golf at Cullman High School in Alabama in 1964.
After a year at Cullman, Hodgin and his wife, Elke, moved on to Boaz High School for three years and then to New Hope High School for another three years.
The world’s attention was riveted on Brevard County when the Hodgin family first arrived in 1969 to check out a job opening for a football coaching and teaching job at Merritt Island High School.
“When we got to Merritt Island for the first time to meet coach (Eddie) Feeley, we didn’t have enough money to stay in a hotel and parked by the Indian River for the night,” said Elke.
“During the night, Gerald decided to fish off the bank and caught a huge bass and said, ‘Honey I think we’re home!’”
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During Hodgin’s first year at Merritt Island in 1969 he was the JV football coach, and in 1970, became the offensive line coach for Feeley’s powerhouse varsity squad.
The rest, as they say, is history as the Mustangs racked-up state championships in 1972, 1978 and 1979 – with Hodgin leading the defense as the coordinator.
Hodgin said among the highlights for him was spending Sundays with fellow coaches Eddie Feeley, Gerald Odom, Lee Mace, Dwight Thomas, Travis Akin, Joe Pribil and Jim Casper going over game plans – along with all the special life long bonds he has made with his adoring players.
“I first met coach Hodgin during my sophomore year at Merritt Island,” said Jimmy Black, quarterback of the 1972 state champion Mustangs and Florida State standout.
“He was the head coach of the JV team and one of the first things you learned about coach was when he told you to do something you had better do it now! Discipline was very important to him and he passed this along to his players. The bond the players had with all our coaches still is strong to this day, almost 50 years later. I would like to thank coach Hodgin for the valuable life lessons he taught me in high school and am proud to call him my friend.”
When Gerald Odom became the head coach at Cocoa High School in 2000 Hodgin joined his staff as the defensive coordinator and stayed on when John Wilkinson took over in 2004 – and picked up two more state title rings in the process.
During his career, Hodgin also coached the Mustang baseball team for 12 seasons, recording 263 victories, five conference titles, four district championships, three regional titles, one sectional crown and a state appearance.
“Hodge put his life and soul into whatever he coached,” said former Merritt Island High School principal Hank Smith.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT 2022 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION, call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com.
CLICK HERE TO SEE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
The festivities include a Meet and Greet with the area’s sports royalty beginning at 6 p.m., and the dinner and induction proceeding will start at 6:45 p.m. and includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event will also include the Brevard County High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, which will be held Friday, May 13 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., also at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, to kick off morning and evening events honoring the area’s outstanding athletes, coaches, administrators and sports celebrities.
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held on the evening of May 13, with a Meet and Greet at 6 p.m. and dinner and program at 7 p.m. The Meet and Greet will include an opportunity to talk with the area’s sports royalty, followed by dinner and the induction proceeding, which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
During the Breakfast of Champions, more than 40 awards will be presented to the best of the best student-athletes.
Businesses and individuals looking to support these outstanding youth and prep athletes can sponsor an award for $500 and includes recognition during the awards event and in the program.
As a sponsor, an invitation will be extended to you and up to four guests to join the festivities for the breakfast. You’ll be seated with the recipient of your award and their family, which is a great chance to meet these talented athletes and get to know them on a personal level. For information about the Brevard County Breakfast of Champions call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com.
Both the Breakfast of Champions and the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame events will be streamed live on Space Coast Daily TV.
The 2020–2021 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the Brevard County High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Health First, Erdman Automotive, All Points, Clear Choice Health Care, Savings Safari, Friday Night Locker Room and Rock Paper Simple.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. For information e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
INDUCTEES SELECTED IN FOUR CATEGORIES
Dozens of nominees were considered for the 2020 and 2021 classes in several categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Nominees are chosen in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports. Special honorary recognition is also bestowed upon individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2021:
■ PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Amber Torrealba, Skimboarding; Randy Pobst, Auto racing
■ COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lynisha Nelson, Basketball; Bryan Cook, Baseball; Steve Freeman, Soccer
■ PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Julie Wollrath, Cross Country; Kaira Simmons, Track & Field; Cameron Harris, Jr., Football
■ AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Alli Penovich, Free Diving
■ COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lee Mace, Football; Jim Oler, Basketball
■ SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEE: Klaus Stafe
■ SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEE: Capt. Eric Ciocher
■ SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Charles Clemente
■ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Larry Garrison
■ SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Rusty Buchanan
■ CHALLENGER AWARD INDUCTEE: Jordan Episcopo
■ TEAM OF THE YEAR: Astronaut High School Bowling
■ LEGACY CHAMPIONS: Merritt Island Baseball, 1999-2000
■ SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Fred Gay
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO THE INDUCTION CEREMONY
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 2021 INDUCTEES PROFILES
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2020
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jamel Dean, Football; Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Wrestling; Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Football; Mark Lake, Skateboarding; Juwaan Taylor, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Derek Hamm, Football; Paulette King, Basketball; Dylan Lewis, Soccer; Melanie Murphy, Softball
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lexy Denaburg, Volleyball; Apryl Bigham Nickson, Swimming; Andi Sellers, Soccer
• AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Peter Blount, Track & Field; Karina Villegas, Sled Hockey; Caylor Williams, Wrestling
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Sean Ballard, Wrestling; Doug Butler, Cross Country and Track; Aubin Goporo, Basketball; Gerald Hodgin, Football; Bill Sinclair, Softball; Don Smith, Basketball
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Loren McClanahan
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Clint Hurdle
• SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEES: Ted Ruta
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Steve Vaughn
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Judge A.B. Majeed
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Congressman Bill Posey
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: Satellite High Cross Country
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE 2020 INDUCTEES PROFILES
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and has so far inducted more than 200 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Partner Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, Sports Editor Juan Rodriguez, Social Media Director Matt O’Hern, Assistant Editor Jordan Rocco, Digital Producers Ron Lighthall, Gavin Keith and Michael Malone, Production Director Brian Dillon, Sports Broadcaster Daryl Durand and Amateur Athletic Union President Rusty Buchanan.
The main athletic building on the Melbourne Campus hosts the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, as portraits of the Hall of Famers are displayed on the wall in the building’s main hallway that runs parallel to the gym and outside the athletic department offices.
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO THE INDUCTION CEREMONY
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and has so far inducted more than 200 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.