The love of the game runs strong through three generations of Hudsons
As a youngster, Mike Hudson remembers tagging along with his father to Wyoming Rogers basketball practices and games, never hesitating to work on his jump shot at side baskets or mimic the drills he saw Golden Hawk players running through.
A genuine gym rat growing up, the longtime Wayland basketball coach has seen his children replicate that interest in the sport.
"With me, it used to be one of those things where I'd ask my dad, "Can I go?' It was just one of the things you did," Hudson said of following his father, Harry, as he coached Wyoming Rogers for 24 years until he retired in 1984. "It was exciting to spend time with my dad, but also shooting baskets and doing things with the other kids on the team."
That love for the game has been passed down to his children, two of whom have played college basketball while a third will play at that level next season. A fourth is currently on the Wildcats' junior varsity team.
Just as Hudson, now 52, used to attend practices and then later play for his father, his children also accompanied their father to countless Wayland practices and games. Wes Hudson closed out an outstanding four-year career at Cornerstone University in 2014, daughter Presley, a sophomore at Central Michigan, was named the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year, and Avery, a 5-10 senior guard for the Wildcats, recently committed to Davenport University.
All began their careers just like their father, picking up pointers and learning the finer points of the game after tagging along to practices and games.
But now the tables have been turned. Despite the long hours put in by a high school coach, Hudson gladly made the time to see Wes and Presley played in college. Hudson figures he attended more than 80 percent of the 136 career games Wes played at Cornerstone and sat in the stands for the vast majority of Presley's 33 games last season.
Wes ranks fifth on Cornerstone’s all-time scoring list (2,036 points) and followed his father’s and grandfather’s career path as he’s currently the girls varsity coach at Wayland.
"It was awesome that he was always there, it meant a lot to me," Wes said. "He was around the sport with his dad when he was young, so he knows what it's like.
"He was not only loyal to me, but the team, too. He'd help those guys. It was special for him to be at my games, whether it was five miles away or 5,000. You could count on him."
Hudson said he didn’t think twice when he decided to follow his father to Wyoming Rogers, and that his children developed the same passion. Even in a new generation mesmerized by I-phones and laptops, or torn by friends to directions other than athletics, basketball always topped the Hudsons’ list of priorities.
Hudson admits that, just like his children, his attention span would occasionally drift away from basketball. But that passion would always return, for him and his offspring. And success has followed the Hudsons, as players and as coaches. In his 23 seasons as Wayland’s coach the Wildcats have won 16 or more games nine times and three times his teams have won 20 or more. Wayland is 3-1 this season and will host O-K Conference Gold Division rival Grand Rapids South Christian on Friday.
Hudson said, for the most part, that the love he has for the game has stuck with him, both as a coach and watching Wes and Presley play in college.
"Some guys seem like they can coach forever and I would ask why. Do they still have that passion?" Hudson said. "There are days when I wake up in the summer and look forward to helping make kids better. But then in the winter when there are snow days, I wonder if I'm better off spending time with my family.
"It's a tough thing when family is involved. Are you more one way than the other? I know I have to keep a balance."
While Hudson wants to see as many Central Michigan games as possible - and the same will be true for Avery next season at Davenport - it's not always feasible. He missed, for instance, Presley’s games in New York and California last season. Most of the time Hudson finds a way to watch her play.
"I have a love of basketball," Hudson said, "And you want to support someone who loves the game as much as you do."