UNION COUNTY — Monday evening’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees began with the recognition of a special school volunteer.
Union County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall started the meeting by introducing Jack Cody — a school volunteer she described as a mentor.
Cody retired from a position as school bus mechanic around 12 years ago, but his service to students began 10 years before that and continues through the present. Cody began volunteering to help with the Yellow Jackets football team, driving the bus and doing whatever was needed, in 1991 when his son, Brian, began playing football. From that point, Cody began to volunteer where ever he was needed, and became a staple volunteer with most all of the athletic teams.
“He’s been with every team we’ve had,” said UCHS Athletic Director Will Hickson. “He gave his time (without pay) for 22 years of his life. How much we appreciate that goes beyond words. If it wasn’t for him, I couldn’t have made it through my first two years (as A.D.), and that’s the honest-to-goodness truth.”
Cody recommends volunteering to anyone who is interested.
“It’s the best experience they would have — being around the students,” Cody said. “I enjoy helping the young people and showing them somebody cares about them.”
“He doesn’t do it for anybody else,” Hickson said. “He’s just a joy.”
Hickson said this year’s state championship girls softball team was constantly looking to “Mr. Jack” during games and practices.
“They know he cares about them, and they care about him as well,” Hickson said. “And all the teams are like that.”
When the Lady Jackets won the Upper State championship, Cody was at the beach with his children and grandchildren. Still on the field immediately following the game, Hickson and Coach Tommy Petty were on the phone with Cody, sharing the news. Cody was with the team in Hartsville when they won the state championship.
Hickson said Cody has had two back surgeries in the past two years.
“The doctor told him he would be out around two months, but he was already talking about coming back at around two weeks,” Hickson smiled. “I said, ‘Mr. Jack, you just let me know when you’re ready.’”
Hickson said Cody often offered to drive, even if he wasn’t scheduled to do so. Cody said he believes someone besides head coaches should drive so the coaches’ minds can be solely on the games.
Hickson said Monday evening’s award does not symbolize something of the past. He said Cody will continue to volunteer, even though he will no longer drive the teams.
“There’s not enough thanks in the world to give for what he’s done for me, and most of all, for our young people,” Hickson said.