Around the Region
Brandeis' sister act comes to a close
Sisters Paris (left) and Noel Hodges will play their last game together this Saturday when Brandeis goes to New York University. Paris is a senior and Noel a junior on the Judges' basketball team.
Saturday’s season finale at New York University will be a bittersweet moment for Brandies University’s Noel and Paris Hodges.
Both sisters have played together since they were in elementary school and will attempt to conclude their ‘unique journey,’ as Noel says, by securing a season-sweep of the Violets.
Earlier this season, the Judges defeated New York University, thanks in part to a combined 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds from the Hodges.
The journey, which Noel speaks of, began on the Shinneock Indian Reservation in Southampton, New York – both sisters are Native Americans and discovered their love for basketball through their father, who constantly played pick-up growing up.
Their father, who was also their assistant coach in high school, taught Noel and Paris the essentials, such as how to shoot a basketball, how to pull down a rebound and how to play defense. He also assisted with their dribbling skills, too, especially when he would set-up cones or chairs for Noel and Paris to weave through on the reservation’s court.
And while their father may have been their biggest critique at times, he was also there to lend support, while cheering on both daughters to Long Island Championships. Paris and Noel combined for a pair of state titles (2014 and 2015) with the Mariners (Southampton High School), while earning numerous postseason accolades, too.
Said Noel of her father, “He has always been there to help us with our dream of playing at the collegiate level. He comes to every game and is always the loudest one there, so he has had a tremendous influence on my basketball life … he has always been there for us, (inspiring) us from the sidelines.”
Added Paris, “He is always there to reassure me – he has always taught me that if you try your best and have no regrets then that’s best you can do.”
Paris also noted that her mother, who played basketball in high school, has provided she and her sister with great support; however, both sisters chuckled when asked if their mother would win in a game of one-on-one against their father? Said Paris, “My mom thinks that she’ll win, but she probably wouldn’t.
One-on-one aside, Paris’s parents couldn’t have been more elated when Brandeis coach Carol Simon made contact with her about playing for the Judges. Not only would Brandeis offer her a chance to extend her basketball career to the collegiate level, but tremendous academics, too.
And once Brandeis welcomed Paris, it was pretty easy to attract Noel to join her sister – one year later, to be exact (the 2014-15 school year was Paris’ first-year in Waltham, Massachusetts) - despite receiving Division I track and Division II basketball offers.
Said Simon, “Noel and Paris really wanted to play together, so the two thought about the opportunity and what it would mean to play together again. And similar to Paris (one year earlier), academics and basketball were very important (in making the decision).”
Since joining the women’s basketball program, Simon has watched Noel and Paris become integral parts of her system. She considers them true students of the game - they want to do everything correct, while helping their teammates be successful through a positive tone.
And the best part about the Hodges is they don’t need extra motivation, according to Simon, because they motivate themselves every day.
“Honestly, in all aspects of life, they just want to be the best that they can be,” said Simon.
“They are really hard workers, both on and off the court, and they motivate themselves, and they’re just trying to give their best effort, while making the team better, too.”
The Hodges were a big part of the team’s early season success this year, as the Judges claimed some impressive non-conference wins against Emmanuel, Roger Williams and Johnson and Wales. They also helped the Blue and White contend against some admirable foes in Tufts, Westfield State and Babson.
Of course, this season isn’t the only one they’ll remember - both sisters will look back with fond memories from their initial season on campus together, as well as last year, too. They’ll remember practices, games, and trips with friends and teammates, and just being part of a unique and special campus culture that they both fell in love with during their initial visits.
And of course, they’ll look back years from now knowing this journey was meant to be together, not separate.
“I see now how unique our journey was together and how a lot of siblings don’t get this opportunity like I had with my sister (over the past few years),” said Noel. “I am so glad that I came to Brandeis and we’re this close, and I couldn’t ask for it any other way.”
Added Paris, “I have truly enjoyed the ride. I have enjoyed a partner who has joined me on hour-long trips to basketball practice in high school and someone to sit next to on the plane in college and talk about game strategy. I consider myself very lucky for this experience and wouldn’t want to have it any other way.”
Matt Noonan is the head editor and founder of NoontimeSports.com, a New England Division III college sports blog that covers basketball, football and lacrosse. Noonan's work has been featured on ESPN.com, BostonLax.net, VentureFizz.com and Patch.com, and has appeared in the Boston Globe, along with other digital and print outlets. No stranger to Division III, Noonan spent time as an Athletics Communications Assistant and Sports Information Assistant at MIT, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Wheaton College, and was recently an Associate Producer at Lax Sports Network where he oversaw a trio of weekly shows, while assisting producers, on-air talent, production assistants and directors with daily programming. Noonan graduated from Wheaton College in May 2010 -- Go Lyons! -- and currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.