Standing in the Florida Basketball Practice Complex for the team’s media day Monday, Zach Hodskins was smiling.
A lifetime of perseverance, hard work and belief brought him to this moment. His freshman season with the Florida Gators will begin next month, with fall practices beginning on Friday.
“I just love it,” he said. “You can feel the excitement coming up with the season just right there. I’m loving every minute of it.”
The freshman guard’s story has been inspirational. Born without the lower half of his left arm, the Alpharetta, Ga., native averaged 11.8 points during his senior year at Milton. He also had an eight-game streak where he averaged nearly 23 points a game. Hodskins’ ability to shoot threes and create shots off the dribble fits Florida’s high-octane offense.
Aside from scoring, Hodskins’ focus on the players around him is a characteristic seen in Billy Donovan-coached teams. After visiting the school and getting to know the coaches and players, the guard took on a preferred walk-on position at Florida.
“I love all the guys, the coaches made me feel right at home,” he said. “I didn’t think there was any better place to be.”
Hodskins compared his time in college so far to high school, as he makes the transition to a new place and adjustments to life on campus.
“I got all these upperclassmen, and I’m at a new school, I have to learn where everything is, what my classes are,” he said. “It’s a huge transition in anybody’s life, you know, I feel like.”
While adjusting to life in college, the experience has been made easier by his teammates. During his time on campus, the guard said the team always has made him feel part of the team, knowing and respecting him as a player. In turn, Hodskins looks to be supportive of his fellow players.
“I just want to be a really good teammate to them,” he said. “Cheer them on, try to make them better and do whatever I can to help the team.”
The bond that Hodskins has with his teammates has been formulated through adversity. The practices this summer were instrumental in establishing leaders and developing team cohesiveness and that will help the team in adverse situations through the season.
“We’ve been through things this summer that, you know, I don’t think anybody has been through teamwise,” Hodskins said. “It just brought us so close together.”
Head coach Billy Donovan said he thinks Hodskins just wants to be like everyone else on the team and is set to contribute in anyway possible. Donovan also said the guard has a great platform to inspire many people.
“The one thing I admire about him is he loves the game of basketball, he loves competing, he loves being out there,” Donovan said. “It’s good to have him part of our team.”
The smile on Zach Hodskins’ face during media day is the culmination of dedication and a focus on a goal. While one dream has come true, the freshman looks forward to living another one out at the O’Connell Center.
“Just the cheering fans and everybody going crazy,” he said. “I had a dream that somebody stormed the court, so hopefully that will happen.”