Student Q&A: Scholar-Athlete and Change Agent Chibuike “ChiChi” Odo ’22

ChiChi Odo '22

When Chibuike “ChiChi” Odo ’22 considered where he might attend college, the self-proclaimed homebody looked at nearby North Texas and Oklahoma schools, close to his McKinney, Texas, home. Then Davidson football came calling, and everything changed for the defensive end, who has his sights set on medical school.

What drew you to Davidson?

Honestly, the beauty of campus really sold me. Besides that, all the opportunities to get involved, network and compete in football while getting a great education—that was what I was looking for. 

During the pandemic, you prioritized racial justice alongside other athletes. How did that happen?

In late May 2020, when so much was going on in the world, I felt led to do something, in part due to my leadership role with the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. We had been meeting weekly over Zoom during COVID, and we took a step back and asked how we could use our platform to make a difference, with support from [Athletic Director] Chris Clunie ’06 and several coaches. Usually, our calls had only a handful of people on them, and when we said we were going to start talking about racial justice and how we could help, we had more than 200 people join—so we started brainstorming. 

How has that work prompted change on campus?

The large group call helped get the ball rolling on antiracism conversations and work, and we wanted people to take what we talked about and apply new ideas, however it made sense for their programs. For example, the football team created a unity council. Other programs created diversity and inclusion councils. Now with COVID restrictions lifting, more people are getting off campus and getting involved in the community. 

How has the scholar-athlete experience helped define who you are?

It’s been a blessing, with ups and downs. Around Davidson, you hear people say a lot, “It will get done.” We’re juggling so many things. But with stress, you learn to make time for the things that really matter. For me, that’s people, my faith and my community. I’m a firm believer in walking the extra mile with someone—just walking and talking is important, even though we’re incredibly busy. 

You’re part of football head coach Scott Abell’s first class. What has that meant to you?

To be part of Coach Abell’s first class means we got to help build the Davidson that Davidson is meant to be. I’ll always look back on the experience and reminisce on that. I agree with people who say Coach Abell is a greater man than he is a coach, and he’s a really good coach. 

Recently, you were named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, in recognition of your service to others*. What does that recognition mean to you?

It’s beyond words. To be the college’s fifth recipient, following Nate Casey ’17 and George Natalowich ’20, who are guys I’ve looked up to since I came to Davidson, is crazy. “Little eyes are always watching” is something I have heard recently, and it rings true, because I am a product of my mentors, coaches, teammates and their continued commitment to community service.

What’s next? 

I’m a finalist for the Watson Fellowship, which is really exciting. If selected, I’ll travel to Australia, Kenya, China and the UK, exploring the mental health of elite athletes. I’m interested in the general state of mental health and what issues are plaguing athletes and how programs integrate mental health initiatives into their team culture. If I don’t get the Watson—we find out in March—I plan to get a job at a hospital for a gap year while I work on applying to medical school. My long-term goal is to become a doctor, specializing in either orthopedics or pediatrics.

*On FCA spring break mission trips, Odo helped build a hydroelectric dam and a brick pathway for Refugio Solte on a retreat site in Uvita, Costa Rica. The following year, he went on a CATS Trip sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office to help repair and restore an old home in John’s Island, S.C. He is working to launch the “Alumni Spotlight Initiative” at McKinney ISD, his home school district, and also has plans to become a Suicide Hotline Volunteer. At the time of the announcement, Coach Abell said, “Not only am I a better coach because of ChiChi, I am a better man. There is no one more deserving of this award.”

Read Davidson Football Team Takes Action Against Social Injustice


This or That?

We asked ChiChi to choose one option from the following duos. His picks are in bold.

  • Early Bird
  • Rock
  • Loose Guidelines
  • Beach
  • Chicken Parm
  • Procrastinate
  • Chocolate
  • Introvert
  • Messy
  • Cake Race
  • Visual Learner
  • See the Future
  • Adventurer
  • The Soda Shop
  • Call
  • Laundry
  • Group Work
  • Ketchup
  • iPhone
  • Study Spot: Library
  • Roller Coasters
  • Animals
  • Mac
  • Night Owl
  • Pop
  • Clear Directions
  • Mountains
  • Commons Thanksgiving
  • Get it Done
  • Vanilla
  • Extrovert (50/50 each)
  • Tidy
  • Flickerball
  • Verbal Learner
  • Change the Past
  • Homebody 
  • The Egg
  • Text
  • Dishes
  • Solo Assignment
  • Ranch (Neither!)
  • Android
  • Study Spot: Union
  • Water Slides
  • People
  • PC

This article was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 print issue of the Davidson Journal Magazine; for more, please see the Davidson Journal section of our website.