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East Lake High coach's family knows dedication doesn't stop when season ends

NEW PORT RICHEY — Michelle Hudson is used to hearing the startling thump in the wee hours of the morning.

It's the television remote control hitting the hardwood floor in the family room.

Hudson simply gets out of bed where she finds her husband asleep in a chair. He's in front of the family room's big screen television and there is a pad of paper by his side scribbled with X's and O's.

Bob Hudson, East Lake High's head football coach, has fallen asleep again while analyzing film.

"I have to drag him to bed," Hudson, 40, said of her husband. "It's 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. and we have to be up at 5 a.m."

It's football season at the Hudsons' Pasco County home. Every year from August to December, it's everything football. The remaining months of the year, it's still football, but the intensity drops a notch.

"He's dedicated to his program and lives, eats and breathes football," Michelle Hudson said. "At the beginning of August, we always take a trip together before the season starts. We have our last time together and I'll see him again in December."

Michelle and Bob Hudson have been married for 15 years and have dated for 20. They have two boys, Jake, 14, and Cole, 9. For as long as Michelle has known her husband, he's been connected to football.

The two went to Gulf Middle School together. Michelle Hudson's mother was his seventh-grade English teacher. They both went to Gulf High. Michelle was in the band. Bob was a football player.

"We did have a Chemistry class together," Michelle said. "I was a senior and he was a junior. At the time, I was dating someone else with the football team. Coach Hudson was bit of a player on the football team. I noticed him and thought he was cute."

But it wasn't until the two left New Port Richey and headed to Florida State University in Tallahassee that the love connection was made.

It was August 1990 and Bob Hudson's fraternity, Sigma Nu, was having a party.

"He wanted ladies there and asked if I could bring over some friends," Michelle Hudson said. "We've been together ever since."

During those days, Bob Hudson would often talk about becoming a high school football coach one day.

"Since we got together in college, he always loved football," Michelle said. "It's always been a passion. And it was his dream to be a high school coach."

In 1996, Hudson came to East Lake High, where he completed his student teaching assignment under Darius Holtzclaw. Michelle said he knew then that East Lake was where he wanted to be.

When Bob Hudson completed the assignment, he accepted a teaching job in Pasco County but would drive to East Lake High everyday to work as an assistant football coach.

"He was a great intern," said Holtzclaw, who now serves as the Eagles' defensive coordinator. "He's got all his bases covered. He works well with the good kids and the not-so-good kids. He does a tremendous job with both and stresses the importance of academics."

The last four years, East Lake's football team has been acknowledged for having the highest grade point average of any team in the county.

In 2003, the opportunity Bob Hudson always wanted materialized. He was named East Lake's head coach.

"I didn't know what kind of time commitment that it would entail," said Michelle Hudson, a social worker at Pasco County's River Ridge Middle/High School. "It was rough when the boys were younger."

When Bob Hudson, 39, isn't at school, he's at football practice. If he's not at practice, he's studying film or talking to his assistant coaches. When the season ends, he's trying to get seniors scholarships, mailing game film to colleges and sending players for recruitment fairs.

During the summer, Bob Hudson is at the school nearly everyday from about 7 to 11 a.m. He opens the weight room so players can lift.

But while he's committed to football, Michelle said her husband cares about what happens to the players beyond the gridiron.

"He's committed and loves the game of football and is a 100 percent family man," Michelle said. "He thinks about those boys and he just thinks so highly of each one them.

"Yes, he wants to win every game but he also wants to help them become good young men who can have a better life because they were involved in the game of football."

Tuesday evening, Bob Hudson made it home in time for dinner. He cooked on the grill just outside his screened patio while Michelle and the boys carved snaggletooth pumpkins.

Michelle Hudson knows it's likely to be a late night for her husband — as will every night this week.

With staunch opponent Countryside High looming Friday, she'll likely hear that thump on the floor in the wee hours.

Contact Demorris A. Lee dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

About this series

This is the eighth in a series called "Beyond the Gridiron," in which reporter Demorris A. Lee takes a look at East Lake High's football program from different perspectives. This week, the focus is on head coach Bob Hudson and his commitment to the team and his family.

This week's game

East Lake at Countryside, 7:30 Friday.

Follow all the action at tampabay.com/hometeam and watch it on Friday Night Rewind.

East Lake High coach's family knows dedication doesn't stop when season ends 10/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 3:09pm]

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