Success carries a price Work is answer: Oakland Mills junior Kena Hodges got rid of her attitude and has gained stardom through a relentless determination.

January 31, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

She was a player, or so she thought. Kena Hodges expected to make the varsity basketball team at Oakland Mills two years ago as a freshman.

She made the junior varsity.

How good was she?

"She was a mediocre JV player," said Oakland Mills varsity coach Teresa Waters.

"I really needed help," said Hodges. "I wasn't as good as I thought. I was going off the wrong leg for layups, really simple stuff."

Two years later, Hodges is averaging 18 points a game for the varsity, as well as 12 rebounds. She has received 40 letters from colleges and is looking forward to playing at a Division I school.

"She has definitely come a long way," said Waters.

So how did the 6-foot-2, 155-pound junior turn around her game?

She worked at it.

"Kena is a living example of what the off-season can do," said Waters.

After her freshman season, Hodges joined the Maryland Waves, an AAU team, late in their season. She played sparingly, and realized again that her game needed work.

"I would come home crying," said Hodges. "I had really low self-confidence at that time."

She spent the entire summer playing basketball, either at camps or around the neighborhood. When she made the varsity last year, she was an improved player with a different attitude.

"I had learned a lot of new things and my attitude had changed," Hodges said. "I was more humble. I was a little arrogant my freshman year."

Hodges continued to improve and learned a lot by practicing against Lauren McHargue, who averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds last year as a senior.

"She was thick and strong and I used to hate to guard her in practice because I would get beat up," Hodges said. "But I knew playing against her would make me a better player."

Hodges averaged five points last season and earned the Scorpions' Most Improved Player award.

She played for the Waves again last year and the team went to the nationals in Indianapolis. While the team did not fare well, Hodges said, "it was a good experience for me. I got a lot of exposure in front of college coaches."

She attended many camps last summer, including earning a scholarship to the Nancy Lieberman Cline camp in Dallas.

Another key to Hodges' improvement has been her work with Don Aaron, a personal basketball developmental specialist.

When he first saw her play last year, "she really needed a lot of work," Aaron said.

Now, Aaron said Hodges has become "very consistent and fundamentally sound," although he adds there is still more to be done.

Aaron said Hodges has "an excellent shooting touch" and right now he is "trying to get her to be a better defensive player and rebounder."

Hodges, who played volleyball for the first time last fall and will compete in the long jump, triple jump and high jump this spring, "is the main factor on our team," said Waters. Although the Scorpions (2-10, 0-6) have struggled, Hodges has played well, scoring 19 or more points in four of the last five games.

Hodges, who has a 3.4 GPA, credits her mother, Deborah Stallings, with much of her success.

"We're like sisters, we're very close," said Hodges, who began lifting weights for the first time in the fall. "She's always there when I need her. It feels good when the game is ready to start and I look up in the stands and see my mom."

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