Couple deals with uncertain future together
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    Exclamation Couple deals with uncertain future together

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009
    Couple deals with uncertain future together
    Sports

    jack slayton

    Sports Editor

    As a student and member of the women's basketball team at Tennessee Wesleyan College, Mindy is about 18 months away from realizing her ambition of becoming a high school biology teacher.

    Josh isn't sure what all his long-term future plans are, but happily satisfied with being in the Marine Corps for the past two years where he is currently a member of Sierra Battery 5th Battalion 11th Marine 1st Division certainly provides him with several viable options.

    The problem facing these two young people is how to merge and coordinate those ambitions as a couple.

    Cleveland's Mindy Cox and Riceville native Josh Hodge dated for two years while attending Walker Valley High School in Bradley County. In fact, the pair were elected Prom King and Queen their senior year - an honor Josh doesn't readily share with his service buddies.

    Following their graduation in 2005, the two continued to date while Cox, a standout for Coach David Tucker's Lady Mustangs, accepted a basketball scholarship to continue her career at Tennessee Wesleyan College and in March of 2007, Hodge joined the Marines.

    In June of that year (2207), while he was home on leave from boot camp, Cox and Hodge were married and settled in with plans for Mindy to continue her education at TWC with Josh expecting to be stationed at a base in nearby North Carolina.

    Then things got complicated.

    The week before Mindy was to start her junior year and third season on the basketball team and while she was visiting Josh at boot camp in Oklahoma, it was learned that instead of North Carolina, he was going to be assigned to Camp Pendleton, 38 miles north of San Diego, Calif.

    "The news came as quite a surprise and really caught us off guard - we were expecting to be in North Carolina," said Cox-Hodge. "It made for a lot of tough and quick decisions."

    In the end, Cox-Hodge withdrew from Wesleyan and joined her husband in California.

    "I felt like that was where I needed to be at the time," said Cox-Hodge.

    While in California, Mindy continued to pursue her education.

    "I never really stopped going to school," she said. "I took some on-line classes offered by Cleveland State, courses that would transfer back to Wesleyan if the opportunity ever presented itself for me to return."

    A few months later, in the early summer of 2008, it was learned that Josh's unit would soon be deployed to Iraq.

    Mindy stayed on in California for a couple of months to complete some education courses before returning home.

    "It was hard with him gone, being alone, but going to school kept me busy and my mind somewhat occupied," said Cox-Hodge. "But it was a tough time."

    While not an ideal assignment, the deployment orders, however, opened a door of opportunity for the couple's future.

    "The orders came at a time that would allow me the chance to return to Wesleyan and the basketball team for a full year," said Cox-Hodge. "So I e-mailed Coach (Jeff) Rice to see if that was a possibility and they worked with me to make it happen."

    The Wesleyan women's basketball coach was more than happy to welcome Cox-Hodge back into the fold.

    "We couldn't wait - finding a way to have Mindy back was a no-brainer," said Rice. "She's not only a tremendous basketball player, but a great young lady, as well. You can't have too many Mindy Cox's in your school or on your team."

    With the aid of today's communication systems, Cox-Hodge was able to juggle her academic schedule, basketball commitment and stay in touch on a regular basis with Josh while he was Iraq before returning state-side earlier this month.

    "It was very hard - but being able to see him and talk with him by webcam and through e-mails helped a lot," said Cox-Hodge. "Sitting and waiting was tough, but to see him and know he was safe was great comfort."

    Rice said the strain was noticeable at times.

    "You could see it in her face when she hadn't talked with Josh for a couple of days," said Rice. "But the same quality that makes her such a good player I think helps her through the tough times. She's a real warrior."

    Josh will be home on leave until the end of this month and then will report back to Camp Pendleton where he will await his next assignment, most likely again in the Middle East.

    Mindy will remain until the school year ends in May before the couple will be forced to make another decision about their future. Mindy still has one year of basketball eligibility remaining and will need to complete a few courses, along with doing her student teaching, in the fall before receiving her degree.

    "I'd like to stay here and finish my education, but we'll just have to wait and see how things fall," said Cox-Hodge. "There are a lot of factors to consider. It sure has been nice having home."

    As always, you can be assured it's a decision they will make together.

    *

    Email: jack.slayton@dailypostathenian.com

    Ellie

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