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Meeting at Nation’s catapults successful career for Hudson

Players train outside ahead of Mike Hudson's first year at Berkeley. Photo courtesy of Mike Hudson
Players train outside ahead of Mike Hudson's first year at Berkeley. Photo courtesy of Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson’s run into the high school head coaching profession all began at one fast food restaurant.

Sitting down at Nation’s, Hudson was there over breakfast interviewing for the boys basketball head coaching position at Kennedy High School in Richmond. There, he met with the principal, jumpstarting what would immediately become something greater.

“He just looked me dead in the eye and asked me why I am the person for that job,” Hudson said. “I don’t remember everything I said word for word, but he was convinced that I was the guy to lead the program. He always felt Kennedy had a lot of talented players, but they couldn’t get over that hump. They felt as though they could always be better, so he believed in me, and we accomplished great things.”

Great things Hudson – now entering his first season as Berkeley’s head boys basketball coach – and Kennedy did during his tenure guiding the program.

In Hudson’s first season at Kennedy, the Eagles fashioned a deep playoff run and qualified for the state playoffs despite all of the adversity thrown their way throughout the course of the campaign.

“A lot of people know there was a lot going on during that year,” Hudson said. “We lost a few players because of gun violence. A lot of players were from different areas in Richmond, so they really didn’t particularly get along, but they all had to play on the same team. Despite all that, we pushed through and made a deep playoff run. 

“The biggest thing is build a relationship with those kids, building that trust. Once that happens, they’ll run through a wall for you pretty much and run through a wall for the program and for their teammates.”

As soon as Hudson transitioned to a new job at Piedmont, all of his successes carried over there, too.

Just like at Kennedy, Hudson took over a team coming off a losing season and found wins left and right during his two-year stint there. As Piedmont’s head coach, Hudson and the Highlanders recorded a 40-20 mark and earned their way to two playoff berths.

In 2019, Hudson’s final season at Piedmont, the Highlanders notched a 21-11 overall record and found their way to the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV Northern California semifinals – being one of the eight teams remaining in the entire state for that division.

“Same thing at Piedmont,” Hudson said. “Just Piedmont for me was a refreshing situation. The kids worked extremely hard and definitely made some special strides in my two years there, but again it’s just about getting kids to buy in. I had a lot of kids at Kennedy go, normally you have a little bit of success, kids tend to trust more into the program you put forth. And so the kids bought in and we did special things.”

At his new home in Berkeley, Hudson loves the situation he has.

Although Berkeley has struggled over the past couple of years on the court – compiling an 11-15 mark in 2019-20 and a 10-16 record the year prior – the Yellowjackets aren’t long removed from winning 20-plus hames in the 2017-18 season, a year when they registered a 23-7 overall record, an 8-2 mark in league play and were Northern California Division I semifinalists.

“Berkeley is a large student population, very diverse school, very rich history, so it was one of the most prominent positions in the Bay Area, but things said it was my dream job,” Hudson said. “The kids have been excited. They’ve been working extremely hard. We have a lot of young talent I would say, and I know we had the opportunity to work.”

That work ethic is just what Hudson wants and what he has witnessed pay dividends at his previous stops of Kennedy and Piedmont, where he combined for a 77-46 record.

And at his dream job, those same characteristics should lend him to the same successes he has experienced elsewhere on the Bay Area coaching circuit.

“I just believe philosophically what you put into this game is what you get out as a player and as a student,” Hudson said. “This game just gives back, and it’s gracious towards. It’s a gracious game that one can learn a lot from, so philosophically that’s what I believe in. What you put in, whether it’s being a better ballplayer, being a better student, the amount of time you put into this game is what you;ll get out of it. Basketball has a lot to offer.”

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