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Bishop Noll grad and hoops standout returns to alma mater to coach, mentor

 101420Alumni Spotlight John Dodson

John Dodson III, Bishop Noll Institute class of 2012, stands near an athletics trophy case at the Hammond school after the boys basketball coach conducted a pre-season workout on Oct. 9. Dodson, a member of the 2011 BNI state tournament runner-up team and former Benedictine University (Ill.) standout, was hired in July to fill a coaching vacancy and build up the program. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

BY ANTHONY D. ALONZO

Northwest Indiana Catholic

 

        HAMMOND – Attending Bishop Noll Institute was a family decision at the Dodson household. Finding a “good environment” for a reserved, yet ambitious teenager, has been measured in friendships, challenges and achievement.

        John Dodson III, BNI 2012, reflected about his time as a Warrior as he coordinated pre-season basketball conditioning with prospective players. In July, the member of the 2011 state runner-up basketball team was named head coach of the boys basketball team at his alma mater in Hammond.

        The Gary native explained that his parents made his educational success story possible.

        “I have two family members who graduated from (BNI),” Dodson said. “My mom got a chance to talk with the family, and they said, ‘You should bring him over to Bishop Noll to be with his family.’”

        At Bishop Noll, Dodson said he took his time to get things started on the right foot. It was his first experience attending a Catholic school, and though he was not very outgoing, he began to make connections with other Warriors who shared common interests.

        Bishop Noll offered him an enriching faith-based education, in a culturally diverse setting.

        “The unique aspect about being at Bishop Noll is that you get different cultures that you can mesh with,” Dodson said. “The BNI experience gives you so many things, and faith is one. Faith is very important in life – to have that type of guidance to understand how things should be done and why they are done in a certain way.”

        Basketball has been a passion of Dodson’s since he could remember. Each year at Noll provided him with the chance to pursue his hoops dreams. Initially, fun and friendships were the main benefits, but by his junior year, he began to assume leadership roles for the Warriors.

        Going into the 2011 season, Dodson said he was optimistic that the Warriors would be competitive. He was named a captain in his junior year and began to preach to his teammates about a dream he had ever since he visited the 2010 Indiana High School Athletic Association basketball tournament in Indianapolis.

        “At the time I said, ‘Wow, we have to try to get here,’” explained Dodson about the state finals.

        Dodson’s junior squad featured standouts Ronnye Beamon, Jose Rosario, and the addition of recruits Larry Crisler, Adonis Filer and Milos Kostic.

        The team Dodson described as “tough” and “confident” started winning in summer tournaments. That momentum carried through an “unexpected” 26-0 season and a trip to the 2011 Class 2A state championship game.

        Though BNI led for most of the state final, a stout Park Tudor defense and Warriors missed shots resulted in a 43-42 loss for Noll.

        “Even after the game there was a lot of togetherness and brotherhood,” Dodson said. “Those are typical answers, but we really took that loss as a team.”

        Dodson went on to play college basketball for the Division-III Benedictine University Eagles, reprising his role as a guard. He was a two-year captain for the team, while he worked toward earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing.

        For Dodson, it was déjà vu all over again in 2016. Benedictine had compiled a 31-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking in D-III. In the national championship game, the Eagles lost despite Dodson’s 13-point, 6-assist and 2-rebound performance.

        “We lost the state championship (at BNI) and now you have the national championship (in college), so it was an even greater (goal),” said Dodson, calling that team a “balanced and unselfish” group.

        To come full circle, John Dodson III aims to provide mentorship to all he encounters, especially those who may need a role model. He reflected on the life lessons of his father, John Dodson II, who he said is a “very impactful mentor,” and the contributions of his former Warriors coaches Drew Trost, Javier Heridia, Cliff Rhodes and Howard Ullrich, who have provided guidance in sports, faith and business matters.

        “I know that too many times, particularly in Gary, Indiana itself, a lot of young black men may not have the role models,” said John Dodson III, who is also the physical education teacher at St. Casimir School in Hammond. “There are so many things that my father taught me, like right from wrong, and how to be my own person.

        John Dodson III continued, “If you get guidance from a positive role model, you’ll go in the right direction.”

        Bishop Noll athletic director Eric Roldan, also a 2012 BNI graduate and a member of the 2011 state runner-up team, believes John Dodson III is the right man for the job.

        “John knows winning, but, more importantly, he knows a successful culture,” Roldan said. “We owe a lot to our coaches for the positions we are in today and that is exactly what I know John wants to do for this group of students and ones to come in the future.”

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