Athletics Hall of Fame: Spotlight on Gabe Hodziewich

To his former students, Gabe Hodziewich was the “just about legitimately cool” teacher who sported a mop of black hair and rode a motorcycle to campus. To his fellow faculty members, Hodziewich was a witty, unapologetically opinionated colleague who was deeply dedicated to his students.
But during this year’s Homecoming festivities, it’ll be his accomplishments on the field during a wildly successful stint as St. Andrew’s soccer coach that will be celebrated when he’s inducted as a member of the inaugural class into the St. Andrew’s Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. on October 15 in the new Student Center.

“It’s just very gratifying to be thought of as part of a team of kids who did all the work and achieved those things,” Hodziewich said. “Here’s a little school having all this wonderful success against bigger schools—that was very meaningful, to be able to go through that.”

Hodziewich began his teaching career in 1982 when he joined the St. Andrew’s faculty as a biology teacher. He also began coaching soccer that year and, by the end of the season, would lead the team to its first PVAC title. The winning streak would continue with titles in 1983 and 1984. The team would record 24 wins, one loss and one tie over the three seasons.

Lansing Freeman, ’85, played on the championship soccer teams and recalled Hodziewich as an accessible person who treated the student athletes as equals.

“Gabe was still a young man when he was our coach,” Hodziewich said. “That, combined with his wonderful hair, made him accessible and close to us and, perhaps, one of us, as opposed to a harsh, distant old taskmaster. We did this all together.”

That approach, Freeman said, helped Hodziewich mold together the different personalities of his players and produce a championship team.

“He compelled us to work as team, rather than as a group of individuals,” Freeman said. “He won the school’s first championship and by winning championships every year, he built a tradition which continues to this day.”

But for Hodziewich, the individual successes of his student athletes, especially those who became All-Met athletes or went on to compete at the next level, were the greater achievements.

“That was really one of the best things about being in the sport, getting these kids recognized,” Hodziewich said. “It’s one thing for the school to win a championship on the soccer field, but to have your kids recognized in the whole D.C. area, that’s really something else. That was a big, big moment for me.”

Hodziewich coached soccer until 1986, then coached boys’ varsity tennis from 1987 to 1994. The tennis team would bring home one title under his tutelage.

Throughout his time at St. Andrew’s, Hodziewich said he developed a reputation for being a “tough teacher,” but believes his success as a coach made the students more willing to listen to him in the classroom.

“It just made it that much more fun for them and for me,” Hodziewich said.

In his later years, with his time as a coach behind him, he didn’t need that success to connect with students. Amanda Allen, ’98, said Hodziewich taught her more than biology. She said that lessons in compassion, empathy, achievement, and persistence learned from him stay with her today.

“Every day, by example, Hodz taught us that treating one another well and as if we were capable of being our best selves was a pretty good path to follow as we were figuring out how to become adults,” Allen said. “Hodz balanced expectations and understanding, a perfect combination for a teacher tasked with guiding teenagers.”

Longtime faculty share the same observations, noting that Hodziewich was a demanding educator who was passionate about teaching and interacting with students.

“He was very dedicated. He would be one of the first people in and one of the last people out,” said science teacher Irene Walsh, who was there with Hodziewich in the early ’80s. “He had a big impact on a lot of kids, in sports and in the classroom.”

Hodziewich taught at St. Andrew’s until 1999, then returned as a volunteer in the tech office from 2001 to 2006. He said it was the students—who were “always more interesting”—that kept him at St. Andrew’s over the years.

“I didn’t think I would find anything better than that, and so far I’ve been proven right,” Hodziewich said.

That devotion to the students, alumni and faculty agree, makes him worthy of any accolade.

“I never had the privilege of having Hodz as a coach, but there is no recognition or honor that he doesn't deserve for his commitment to the growth and success of the people who make up our St. Andrew's community,” Allen said.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.