It’s tradition that keeps a city close. It’s tradition which leads town residents to call a town, home. Cedar City’s tradition of basketball can be charted back to many, but there is one player, Steve Hodson, a stand out from Orem High School who came South in 1977 and joined Thunderbirds Basketball and made history. It is this “stand out’s” legacy that brought 18 basketball teams to Canyon View High School last week to play the game Hodson loved with a passion. It was this passion that led CVHS to create The Hodson Classic in his honor.
The winter of 1986 was a cold one. Locals sought refuge and entertainment on Friday nights in the Cedar High Gym watching Steve Hodson’s boys “hoop it up.” Steve Hodson had become a household name in our little town of Cedar City in the late ‘70’s and ‘80’s. And that year,1986, he led his Cedar High Squad to a third-place finish at the 3A tournament at the University of Utah; Hodson’s powerhouse team that year was composed of Richard Barton, Ken Nielson, Chris Weaver, Curtis Jones, Jeff Barton, Ryan Harris, John Greenhalgh, John Chamberlain, Kurt Gale and Kim Blackner.
On their road to victory that year, the Redmen pummeled the Dixie Flyers four times. The fourth and final at the State Tournament. That was no easy task. And the team that sent the Redmen home from the state tourney boasted an extraordinary squad, four of which went on to sign with Division One Schools.
Steve Hodson’s pure love of the game drew him to the court as a boy and his feet never left. The legacy he created in Cedar City can be felt for generations. As a 1973 graduate from Orem High School, Hodson went on to play for Utah Technical College (now UVU). Under the coaching of Harry Anderson, Hodson averaged 27 points a game and was named “All Conference.” After his two-year stint at Utah Tech, Stan Jack, SUSC’s Head Coach, brought Hodson South. When asked, “why him?” Jack replied,” because he is a real take charge player; I like his leadership, and I like his competitive spirit.” Hodson went on to lead the T Birds 1977 team to the NALA National Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. Hodson also led the 1976 and 1977 SUSC teams in assists. While at SUSC, Hodson earned Mountain, Athletic Conference honors.
When Hodson’s time as player on the court ended, Hodson assumed the role of Coach. In fact, he stayed with Jack Stan for a few seasons as assistant coach before spending a year at Granite High School in SLC in 1978. He then returned south and coached at CHS as an assistant coach from 1979-80. After which, he joined Neil Roberts at Dixie College from 1980-83 and then returned to CHS as head coach from 1983—87. His second stint at SUU was again with Roberts coaching the T Birds from 1987-91. He returned to the Redmen from 1991-97. Under his mentorship, the Redmen won back-to- back titles in 1994-95; Hodson then became a Falcon with the creation of Canyon View High. He coached the Falcons from 1998-2006, garnishing state titles in ‘99 as the Boys’ Head Coach and in ‘06 mentoring the girls. Hodson’s coaching career ended where it began at SUU coaching the Women’s Team.
Hodson holds many titles and impressive stats, but none of that was important to him. It was about the players. It was about individuals becoming a team. Former Southern Utah University guard, Rick Roberts said this of Hodson’s coaching, “Coach Hod was instrumental in furthering the basketball skills of young and accomplished athletes. His upbeat style and humor were always cherished. His appetite for life and sport… and Diet Coke will always be remembered. Miss him.”
Hodson walked to the “scorer’s table” as coach for the last time on November 3, 2008 after an eight-year battle with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer. Steve and his wife Suzy were married 33 years and were the parents of three daughters: Andrea, Summer, and Kristy. When asked what Steve’s favorite part of basketball was, Suzy replied, “He loved teaching the game of basketball- that’s what he loved. He was very competitive and he did not like losing. But his excitement and joy came from players becoming better than they ever thought they could, and learning to work together as a team.”
The Hodson Classic, hosted by Cedar City’s Canyon View High School celebrated its 13th anniversary last week. The 2021 Hodson Classic committee included: Hodson’s wife Suzy, CVHS administration and CVHS Girls’ Coach, Jaycee Barnhurst and Boys’ Coach, Rob Potter.
Over the past thirteen years, the tournament has raised thousands of dollars for those who are presently fighting cancer. This year’s recipients are Gloria Truman, A Cedar High Alum, and Bob Tate, the former Cedar City Parks and Recreation director. This Christmas tournament is not only a tribute to Steve Hodson, but to Cedar City, and to a community who loves basketball, kids, and the spirit of tradition.