Progressive Legacy: Rodney Hull
By Quinton R. Arthur
In the journey of life, there are many avenues and options available for people to take. From being a well-known basketball star to changing lives in the halls of education, Kappa Frater Rodney Hull proves that you can experience the best of all worlds and live a fulfilled life.
Hull was raised in the Harold L. Ickes Chicago Housing Authority public housing project. He was raised by his mother. Throughout his adolescence, his outlet for escaping the struggles of everyday life was sports. He was a talented athlete and participated in baseball, football and basketball. Though he considered himself more talented in baseball, basketball was the only organized sport in the area.
Immediately showing potential in the sport, Hull was recruited to Simeon high school, where he held the position of power forward. By his sophomore year, he moved up to the varsity team, where he was scouted by all the major colleges.
“My mother only had to tell me once, no grades, no ball,” Hull remembers. With that in mind, he began sharpening his skills athletically and academically. By his junior year, he could go to any school in the country. His senior year, he made the decision to go to the University of Kansas, a top five basketball school.
The coach wanted the players to be good students, great athletes and involved in their campus community. In the Black community on campus, the athletes and the Black Greek-lettered organizations received all the attention on campus. Parties were usually held in the Student Union. For Hull and other teammates, the prestige of being a college athlete allowed them to get into parties without paying, which did not sit well with many of the organizations on campus. But Hull established a rapport with one organization and made the decision to pursue them. In the fall of 1985, Hull became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
“It wasn’t a common practice for athletes to pledge at the university,” Hull states. “The last basketball player to join Kappa before me at the university was Wilt Chamberlain.”
Hull made it a practice to have friendships on the court and off the court, so joining the fraternity helped him do that. Hull believes Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. established a strong support system for him.
“Through success and life’s hardship, you’ll always have a brotherhood. When one member is successful, you strive to emulate, causing a domino effect of success.”
During his sophomore year, the team made the Final Four in the NCAA tournament. With all the success from basketball and fraternal life, Hull felt invincible. His life changed when he found out he was going to be a father.
After taking some time off, Hull finished school receiving a degree in Criminal Law. One of the requirements for the program was to fill out an application for the police department. He recalls one question quite vividly.
“They asked me if I was to get a professional contract to play basketball, would I still pursue this job. I told them I would, but they did not believe me, seeing as how I had many teammates and friends who achieved success in the NBA.”
After graduating, his passion for basketball continued and he pursued a professional career. However, he had to transition from playing power forward to small forward. Many other players had experience being small forwards, so Hull spent some time overseas playing basketball in Greece and Argentina.
During the off-season, Hull would volunteer in schools. Inspired by his mother who was in education, Hull began to substitute teach in the schools. He enjoyed dealing with the students, so he went to go get certified in education.
He began at his high school, Simeon, but the 22-year-old was too close in age to the students, so he made the transition to grammar school, where he stayed for 8 years. After that, he became a high school assistant principal for three years, and then a school principal for 15 years.
During his tenure in education, Hull was recognized as principal of the year; helped a school achieve level one status in Chicago, the highest tier in Chicago Public School education; and took a low-performing level 5 school and brought it up to a level 2 in close to three years.
But personal accomplishments aside, the most gratification Hull gets is seeing students he had 20-25 years ago progress in their goals and stay in contact with him.
“To be progressive is not to be stagnant, not to be complacent. In being progressive, you are always trying to improve and develop yourself.”