Q&A with President-Elect Cody Carlson

Beginning in April 2020, the “B” Association will feature a Q&A segment with members of the association’s leadership in its spring and summer membership newsletters. 

Cody Carlson was a star quarterback for the Baylor Bears (’83-’86) who went on to play seven seasons in the NFL for the Houston Oilers. Known by his teammates as “Commander Cody,” Carlson is an author, community leader, and voracious reader. Carlson currently lives in Waco with his wife Barbara and has three children: Anna and Micah (age 23) and Isaac (age 17).



What is your current occupation?

I work as a business development and communications specialist in healthcare. I currently work in the healthcare business solutions space. I have also worked representing healthcare clients before the Texas State Legislature and as a communications coordinator at a children’s hospital.

What led you to a career in that field?

I was working as a communications consultant in 2003 when our youngest child, Isaac, was born. I had very little understanding of the healthcare system, particularly the complexities of access to comprehensive medical care because access to medical care I received as a student and professional athlete was handled by others. But during his first eight years, Isaac required multiple specialized procedures at several different hospitals and clinics in multiple cities. It was when we were handling Isaac’s needs that I started to imagine how difficult it must be for some to understand where to go for medical care because of language barriers or a lack of insurance. I applied for and was then hired for a position at the local children’s hospital in Austin to develop communication and education that would benefit primary care physicians and the patient population that the hospital served.

Has your job given you greater insight into the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, in what way?

Because the novel corona virus that causes the COVID-19 is indeed “novel” or previously unknown, there isn’t anyone who knows what to expect, fully. Those in direct medical care have insight into how difficult the disease is to treat, and those in medical research have gained knowledge of origin, potential risks and potential prevention. I can remark on how hard it is for the healthcare industry, and assume what changes in the healthcare delivery system might result. I can tentatively compare this crisis to the 2009 outbreak of a new variant of H1N1 when I was an administrator. That virus was most serious to the population under 60 (it is thought the older population had some antibodies from a previous and milder version). A similar immunity should occur with this pandemic. It took 8 months to develop a large quantity of vaccine for the 2009 H1N1. It seems plausible that the development of a vaccine for this Coronavirus will follow that form. The H1N1 variant first seen in 2009 still circulates within the world’s population. I assume this or another form of Coronavirus will also be an ongoing factor, so we will have to come to terms with that and move forward wisely. The economic, school and social shutdown required to slow COVID-19 is more disruptive than any other situation we have known. We all realize we will be required to persevere through some difficult days in order to recover. And normal might be different moving forward. But there is good that can/will come as well. Maybe we are finding, or will re-discover, joy in simple things, or prioritize things differently, and live life better as it comes each day.

What was your most significant achievement while at Baylor?

Like many former student-athletes I initially think of achievements in sport, possibly because of our love for playing the game, or that each game required hours of preparation and inordinate focus. Our football teams of 1985 and 1986 had some great victories against nationally ranked opponents, including USC and LSU, and we played well in close losses on the road at Georgia in 1985 and Texas A&M in 1986. I was proud to be a Co-Captain on those teams. But what I viewed as a secondary benefit while at Baylor, graduating with a BBA, was the highest and most valuable achievement.

What is your fondest memory of your time at Baylor?

That is almost asking too much, because I can state that I have many. Every fond memory was the result of strong relationships with teammates, coaches, and those involved in the college ministry at the church I attended. However, I do recall that on a day that it snowed in Austin (but not in Waco), several friends from different sports piled into vehicles and drove to Austin. Arriving at Lions Municipal Golf Course we commenced to make snowballs for an epic snowball fight. Of course being trained as athletes, we first stretched and warmed our arms up, which might have been a historical first in snowball fighting.

Why did you become involved with the “B” Association?

For years I was on the periphery of the “B” Association, and appreciated Walter Abercrombie as a friend. I knew something of the programming offered. It was when our family dynamic changed (our oldest two kids enrolling in college) that I began to spend more time around Walter, Tammy, Lauren and the “B” Association Board. I was so impressed by the vision that they shared; that of supporting our alumni group, the University’s Christian mission, and its athletic programs and student-athletes. I witnessed their resolve as they persisted through some really hard days. I believed in the vision and understood that we each can help others in some way by dedicating some of what we have to assure our members, and those in the University are served, so I got involved.

What advice would you give to current student-athletes?

Be balanced and make a positive impact. Put forth effort to grow physically, relationally, spiritually, academically. Find joy in your sport but also purpose in your education. Be responsible to coaches and teammates. Listen to the mentors around you, from coaches to chaplains to academic advisors. Take the valuable habit of hard work forward in life. Understand that all athletes transition out of their sport, but stay active for your health, and be a considerate contributor to others.

What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?

When some freedoms return I might be at the Farmer’s Market, eating at a local restaurant, watching Baylor sports or a good movie, getting beat by Isaac in “PIG” or “HORSE”, swimming for exercise, and occasionally fly-fishing.


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