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For Cornwall skier Sophia Hodges, Middlebury College was the obvious choice

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College junior and Cornwall native Sophia Hodges recently sat down with a representative of the Middlebury College Sports Information Department to discuss her Nordic skiing career, her decision to attend Middlebury, and her family ties.
Hodges, an English and American literature major in her third year skiing for the Panthers, is also a second-generation Middlebury athlete: Her father, Barney Hodges, was a Panther all-American Nordic skier who graduated in 1992 and now assists the Middlebury Union High School Nordic team.
And her two younger siblings are successful Nordic skiers in their own right. Samuel Hodges, a Middlebury College freshman on the Panther Nordic squad, previously helped the Middlebury Union High School Tigers win three Division II Nordic skiing titles and won multiple individual championships. He has also scored points for the Panther men’s team this winter.
Malia Hodges is an MUHS junior who helped the Tiger girls win D-II titles as a freshman and sophomore and won the D-II individual freestyle title in 2018.
SOPHIA HODGES, SHOWN here in action for the Middlebury College Nordic team, is a Cornwall resident who chose to attend school close to home because of her love of skiing, family and Vermont.
Photo courtesy of Middlebury College
Sophia Hodges recently responded to a series of questions posed to her: 
Q: Tell us about growing up in apple country.
A: My parents own and run the Sunrise Orchards in nearby Cornwall. Our story started when my paternal grandparents moved to Vermont in 1974 with my dad and his siblings and began planting the orchard. They handed the baton of the business over to my father in the early 2000s.
While growing up, I learned leadership and communication from my parents while they ran the orchard. I also picked up a lot of information about hard work and the pressures of running your own business at a young age, but my parents have been wonderful role models for me throughout my life.
Q: How did it feel to win the Middlebury Carnival this year?(The Panthers on Feb. 15 and 16 earned their first carnival win in 11 years.)
A: Everyone was really excited, not only on the respective teams but also throughout the community! I remember hearing “915 is my new favorite number” a lot throughout my friends, as that was the score we needed to beat Dartmouth and win the carnival.
It is exciting to be a part of something that I feel like everyone on our team has worked so hard to accomplish. I remember head coach Andrew Johnson specifically saying how he thought it was interesting that our team didn’t focus on the results that much all weekend, and when we ended up winning, it was indicative of how each teammate put their best foot forward for that weekend, almost like a natural outcome.
Q: Why did you decide to stay nearby for college?
I decided to attend Middlebury because I truly love the town and Vermont in general. I spent my last two years of high school at Stratton Mountain School in southern Vermont, and I knew Middlebury was the place for me early on. I have very strong connections to my family and the land here, especially at Rikert Nordic Center, where I have been skiing since I learned to walk, and all of these things made me realize that this place is special no matter where you come from.
Q: When did skiing become a big part of your life?
I learned to ski when I was about four or five years old, and I began skiing on a competitive level when I was in fourth grade. I went to a summer camp at Stratton Mountain School that encompassed nearly all of my friends in the skiing community. We really bonded over the sport not only during that camp but beyond, spurring my love for it.
Q: How is it to have your younger brother Samuel on this year’s team?
A: It is pretty fun to have Samuel on the team with me. My siblings and I are very close, and Samuel and I in particular. We spent a lot of time skiing together in Bill Koch League (the youth ski league in the Northeast) at Rikert when we were in elementary and middle school, and it is a great thing to have him with me here at Middlebury.
CHRISTIANA AND BARNEY Hodges pose in their Sunrise Orchard in Cornwall. Barney was an all-American skier at Middlebury College, and their older daughter, Sophia, and son, Samuel, ski for the Panthers.
Photo courtesy of Sophia Hodges
Q: What is it like to ski for the same team as your father Barney?
A: My father is a big part of the reason why I ski today. It is really fun for Samuel and me to be able to ski at Middlebury, following in the footsteps of my father, as well as making our own memories at the same time. I think that my father is really proud to have us both here at Middlebury.
He came to every carnival this winter, showing his ongoing dedication to the sport. He also just joined the Rikert crew as a groomer, and has been really excited to keep the grooming there top notch for everyone who uses the trails.
Q: What is your #MiddMoment?
I guess I would say my #MiddMoment is no day in particular, but coming back from Rikert with my teammates after one of our workouts and singing loudly to all of our favorite songs in the van is always really fun.
Editor’s note: This interview was provided courtesy of the Middlebury College Sports Information Department.

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