Jody Hyden ’88 is a self-described small-town country boy. After graduating from high school, he planned to follow in his father’s footsteps at the family-owned car dealership in Pennington Gap, Va. But that summer, a chance meeting with Eddie Parker at the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy in Sweet Briar, Va., changed his life. Parker, whose father Marshall Parker was Coastal Carolina University’s head men’s tennis coach at the time, encouraged Hyden to consider playing tennis for the Chanticleers.
“I contacted Coach Parker and went through the application process,” Hyden said. “Then I told my dad I was going to Coastal to play tennis. I packed up and headed there in the fall of 1983. It’s the best decision I ever made.”
While a student at CCU, Hyden saw firsthand how difficult it was for some of his peers to financially stay in school. He also remembers seeing several of his Jonesville High School classmates go off to college only to last a semester or two before returning to their hometown, which he says is in one of Virginia’s poorest counties. Those experiences served as the impetus for him to establish the Hyden Family Endowment for Students with Financial Need.
I owe so much to Coastal for giving me the opportunity to attend college,” Hyden said. “All the professors were very good to me. And I am grateful for the financial support I received from Coastal. I just can’t say enough about all the opportunities that going to Coastal opened up for me, which is why I give back. Hopefully, this fund will serve as a financial bridge so students won’t have to drop out.”
When Hyden reminisces about his undergraduate days, he recalls attending an introductory psychology class in the Singleton Building. He said, “The classroom overlooked what was then the horseshoe, and everything was so beautiful. I remember saying to myself, ‘Whatever you do, don’t mess this up.’ I didn’t want to end up going back home because I didn’t do the right thing. I knew I had to work hard.”
His strong work ethic has certainly paid off. He earned a physical education degree at CCU and later became the head women’s tennis coach at Duke University, compiling an overall record of 59-13 from 1995-98. With the guidance and support from contacts he made at Duke, Hyden changed his career path. In 2001, he opened Hyden and Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. in Daniel Island, S.C.