Home Run of the Heart

screen_shot_2016-09-13_at_7-46-37_pm-editBrendan Dudas is a senior supply chain management major at UIndy. He plays first base on the baseball team and is dedicated to honing his abilities on the field and in the classroom. He spends his downtime organizing his own Wiffle ball league. But he’s not exactly your typical student-athlete. Because when Brendan began his final year as a Greyhound, he became a father to his two nephews.

Brendan has been a key figure in the lives of his nephews, Kevin and Tristan, since before his freshman year at UIndy. Each day, he and his girlfriend, Madison, take turns getting the boys ready for school, getting them onto the bus, and then meeting them at the end of the day. Brendan explains that most of his free time comes only after he has put them to bed. And while his lifestyle doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a college student, Brendan says he feels as though he isn’t missing anything. For Brendan, his love and compassion drove his decision to pursue guardianship of his nephews.

“My mom has been a good example for me,” he explains. “Maddie and I knew that we were capable of this, and we took it head-on,” he says. “My mom likes to see the best in everybody and tries to take care of everybody that
she can. I’ve picked up some of that loving nature.”

But as far as his loving nature has carried him, Brendan has accepted that feeling overwhelmed and leading a hectic, busy lifestyle is his new normal. Luckily, his UIndy family has been more than happy to help.

A deep bench

At first, Brendan did not want to tell head baseball coach Gary Vaught and assistant coach Al Ready that he was caring for his nephews. Brendan simply wanted to be another one of the guys who wasn’t given any unfair advantages because of his choices off the baseball field.

“I just wanted to be another team player, and put in my work just like everyone else without an excuse,” he says.
But when Vaught and Ready found out, Brendan discovered that he had a support system he hadn’t expected. His coaches understand if he needs to hurry out of practice. They help him find babysitters when necessary, and have told them they will assist him in any way they can. His teammates have been equally supportive.

“The guys on the team are super understanding,” he explains. “They even offer to watch the kids if I need help. The whole team has just been incredible in that sense. I’m really grateful.”

Wiffle ball for Whitely

Brendan’s loving philosophy means that he gives to causes that are personally important to him. In the name of his cousin Whitely Hedger who died from a brain tumor in 2015, Brendan’s Wiffle ball league holds an annual fundraiser to fund her cancer foundation. And while it’s clear that Brendan’s commitment to helping others started years before he became a Greyhound, he says that UIndy’s tight-knit community and dedication to service resonate with him deeply.

“UIndy’s motto is ‘Education for Service,’” he says, “and it’s a statement the school supports in its actions. President Manuel is involved with student life and with events in Indianapolis. He’s awesome, and I think his example rubs off on the students. We’re all committed to helping each other. A lot of universities have these mottos and don’t stand behind them, but UIndy does 100 percent.”

Brendan embodies the UIndy spirit of giving, and he is happy to be a student here. What’s more, UIndy may have gained a new legacy as Brendan’s family grows. He says that he will absolutely recommend his soon-to-be alma mater as a college option for his children.