Carla Hodel ‘14 recently graduated with her Master’s in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, and has been working with the Tampa Bay Rays as a Mental Performance Coach. Prior to landing her dream job, she was the Head Cheer Coach at Gulliver! Read on to learn about her experience with the Tampa Bay Rays, how Gulliver helped prepare her for her career, her advice to current students, and more!
Q: What do you like about the work you are doing with the Tampa Bay Rays? Describe your career path.
A: I love my job! I love that I get to help players and staff become the best version of themselves on and off the field. Knowing that I have the opportunity to help someone every day is such a rewarding feeling, it’s why I do what I do. Since graduating high school, I always knew that I had a passion for sports and for helping others, so I searched for a field where I could pursue both those passions. This is when I found sport psychology and immediately fell in love with the field. During my undergrad I worked with the U.S. Military Academy in New York as a mental skills coach intern (also while cheering for a D1 program). I then moved back to Miami to obtain my Master’s from Barry University. During this time I worked with college baseball and as the Head Cheer Coach at Gulliver. Before graduating with my master’s, I accepted my current position with the Rays and I’m now in my second season working with the organization.
Q: Is there anything you learned during your time at Gulliver Prep that you feel was helpful in your career?
A: I truly believe that Gulliver is what taught me how to have a strong work ethic and how to pursue more than just one passion, while still being able to balance everything that I love to do. Gulliver always encouraged me to join clubs, be in sports (I was in both cheer and track), and also prioritize my grades and performance in the classroom. This experience taught me how to give my all in more than just one area of my life, how to have a strong work ethic, and to give my all to anything that I do.
Q: What has been one of your proudest moments thus far in your career?
A: My proudest moment is honestly landing my dream job of working for a professional sport organization and to be able to achieve that before even graduating with my master’s. I actually started my current position before finishing my degree and had to balance finishing my degree and starting my professional career. In that same year, the Rays won the AL East Championship and made it to the World Series – it was a very eventful year in my career!
Q: Are there any Gulliver teachers or coaches that you credit as having been a positive influence on you?
A: Yes! Coach Marie Dieppa and Kristen Key (Szpak), my cheer coaches. Both these women were my role models during my time at Gulliver and I truly believe that I am who I am today because of their example. They taught me lessons on and off the field and taught me how to be a leader. They not only helped me find my love for cheer which I carried on to college and even after, but also taught me the importance of being a good teammate, leading by example, and just being a good person. These are all lessons that I carry with me to this day.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories from your time at Gulliver Prep?
A: Cheer competitions and being on the cheer team.
Q: As a Gulliver Prep alum, what advice would you give to current students?
A: It’s okay to have more than one passion. You are capable of being great at literally everything that you invest your time into. Try new things, give your all to anything that you sign up for, but also learn how to prioritize yourself and take time to really enjoy where you are right now. Being a student a Gulliver is truly something to be grateful for, so enjoy these years. Reflect on what makes you happy and pursue that, no matter what others may think, you can be great at anything you set your mind to.
A quote that motivates you: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you have to get up and find a new room.”
A song that you’ll never get tired of hearing: Promises by Maverick City Music
Next place you want to vacation: Maldives
Your go-to mid-afternoon snack or pick-me-up: Half Baked Ben & Jerry’s ice cream lol