Centennial grad mentored, cared and gave back

Rick Hodgson (standing at right) with Centennial College journalism profs and students during a placement meeting in 2011.
Rick Hodgson (standing at right) with Centennial College journalism profs and students during a placement meeting in 2011.

Mike Cormack remembered the way he and Rick Hodgson became good friends back at journalism school.

“If you were working late on the paper, if it was two o’clock in the morning and there were six people there, he’d drive everybody home, no matter where you lived,“ Cormack said.

At the time, in the early 2000s, the two attended classes in Centennial College’s journalism program.

“If people needed to deliver the paper to get credits,” Cormack said, “Rick would drive them around … even though he didn’t need the credits.”

According to Cormack, now senior producer at Sportsnet, Hodgson was always willing to help, whether during his time as a student at Centennial or later as a producer at TSN.

“He was very compassionate. He cared for everybody,” Cormack said.

Rick Hodgson, 36, died of a heart attack on Nov. 27, leaving his wife Jennie Hodgson and young son Rickey.

“He was great at bringing people together,” Cormack added. “He liked everyone’s company and he did his best to make sure they enjoyed each other’s company too.”

That talent of bringing people together was always on display around the holidays. For the past several years, Hodgson took it upon himself to organize the TSN Christmas party.

James Duthie, the host of TSN’s hockey panels, recalled that Hodgson would show up dressed in a full Santa costume, and he’d remain at the entrance to the party, making sure everyone felt welcome.

Hodgson’s career at TSN began after his graduation from Centennial College in 2003. Starting as an intern, he worked his way up to becoming one of TSN’s most knowledgeable and reliable producers.

Hodgson produced TSN’s hockey coverage on TV. Duthie considered him the “unsung hero” of the hockey panels, because despite the pressures of the job, Hodgson always delivered.

Duthie said the question TV professionals often pose to each other as a gauge of whether they understand the nature of the industry is, “Do they get it?”

“That’s one of the best ways to describe Rick,” Duthie said. “He got it. Always!”

Duthie said another of Hodgson’s legacies was the number of people he helped; his editing suite at TSN was always a hub of activity.

“We’re going to put a plaque up there for him,” he said.

Another indicator of how appreciated Hodgson was came through a gofundme account set up to support his five-year-old son Rickey. Donors have contributed more than $70,000.

Hodgson has also continued to serve as a mentor for current Centennial College journalism students.

“He would make sure to go back to (the East York campus) to talk to prospective interns before they went on their placements,” Cormack said.

In addition to offering advice on internships, Hodgson helped students them with school projects.

Current journalism student Dannika Russell interviewed Hodgson for a class project in February. Russell said Hodgson answered all her questions regarding sports journalism.

“He helped a lot … and I’m hoping to do my internship at TSN,” Russell said. “I’m sad that I won’t get a chance to work with him again.”

In Russell’s interview with Hodgson, he explained some of the challenges of interviewing pro-athletes, ending the conversation with some advice,

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “People are more often then not willing to help you. … You just have to ask.”

Rick Hodgson was proof of that.