Hard work, dedication and perseverance – these things are instrumental in producing a winning football program. The same goes for becoming a football coach, no easy task in the competitive Florida high school ranks.
Just ask East Lake's Bob Hudson.
When Hudson first joined the East Lake High School coaching staff in 1996, he entered as an entry-level assistant coach through a collegiate student teaching assignment. Under the tutelage of then-head coach Darius Holtzclaw he discovered that, indeed, hard work, dedication and perseverance paid off. After seven years as an assistant, East Lake promoted Hudson to head coach.
"I just try to keep getting better," said Hudson. "I love the kids, obviously my coaches, families, administration – everything's great, so it's easy to get up in the morning and try to get better every day and every year."
The fruits of his labor are showing in 2010. On November 5, East Lake defeated Dunedin 35-7 to move to 7-2 on the season and 3-1 in league play. Senior receiver Tyler Higbee finished with five catches for 67 yards and a score and sophomore quarterback Pete Dinovo tossed three touchdowns overall as the Eagles' earned the runner-up spot in the Class 5A District 8 and a postseason berth.
The decisive victory also earned Hudson the Buccaneers' final Coach of the Week award for the 2010 season.
"It's pretty exciting," said Hudson of the award. "I'm just one part of it. My coaches that are teachers helped me get there, but it's a great honor and I really appreciate it."
On Thursday, Coach Hudson was invited to One Buccaneer Place for a tour of the team's facility and an opportunity to watch the Buccaneers practice. He was accompanied by his former mentor, Holtzclaw, as well as three current assistant coaches: Todd Brooks, Jamie Burke and Brian Riley. Following the team's morning session, Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris congratulated the group on the Eagles' successful season and wished them well as they prepare for the playoffs.
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Hudson received a $1,000 donation from the NFL Youth Football Fund to go towards East Lake's football program.
"It was awesome, I can't explain it," said Hudson of the experience. "To come out here with some of my best friends who are my coaches, and watch football, which we all love to do…we are all Bucs fans, and just to see everyone and watch everything, it's very exciting. I appreciate the opportunity."
The Buccaneers honored 10 high school coaches from West Central and Central Florida during this year's prep football season. A Coach of the Year, who receives an additional $1,000 for his football program, will be selected from the 10 winners at the end of the season. The Buccaneers and the NFL's Coach of the Week program aids in the development of youth football, which has a positive influence on young athletes and the communities in which they live.