To celebrate Black History Month we will catch up with some Coast Guard Academy graduates who excelled while at the Academy and have enjoyed continued success after leaving the Academy.
Eric Hudson ('10) was a four-year starter on the Bears basketball team and he was part of the greatest season in Coast Guard history during the 2007-'08 season when the Bears won a school-record 24 games, won a second straight New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament championship and enjoyed a magical ride to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Division III tournament. The Bears also won the NEWMAC tournament in the 2006-'07 season earning its first NCAA tournament berth since 1979.
"Basketball had a large part in my decision to attend the Academy. Playing college basketball was my number one priority in selecting my school. I was accepted to University of Texas, Houston, Texas Christian, SMU, and Steven F. Austin, but the coaches at the Academy where the only ones who believed I could make a difference," said Hudson. " I've always considered myself as leader and not one to follow the pack. The US Coast Guard Academy seemed like the place that would challenge me. Together, basketball and personal development aided me into deciding to attend the CGA."
Hudson had his share of struggles at the Academy and being a minority was one of them. "I went from a high school with 80% minorities to being one of the few in at the Academy. The change really made me guarded and conscious of what I did and how I was perceived," said Hudson. "Academically things got really challenging and I was disappointed in myself because I felt I was fulfilling negative stereo-types and 95% of the students at the academy are geniuses. So the extra work I had to put in was different than most."
Hudson made a difference on the basketball court for the Bears the minute he stepped on campus as it was his freshman season when the Bears won the conference tournament after finishing last in the regular season and earned an NCAA berth for the first time in 28 years and just the second time in school history and then went to the Elite 8 during his sophomore season. He made four key free throws in the final minutes of the NEWMAC tournament championship game a freshman to lead the Bears to the upset of top-seeded WPI.
"That Elite 8 was the best team I ever been on in life! We were so in sync," said Hudson. " The four clutch free throws I made against WPI as a freshmen year to win the conference tournament and then the Rhode Island College game in the NCAA tournament when the whole school attended the game, as well as ADM Allen's halftime speech are what I will always remember."
After graduation he was stationed on the USCGC DAUNTLESS in Galveston, Texas. He jokingly says that he was assigned every job on the cutter, but he was Landing Signals Officer (LSO), Public Affairs Officer, Weapons Officer, Combat Information Center Officer, Intelligence Officer, Property Officer, and Morale Officer.
He says humility is one of the most important skills that he learned at the Academy. " I was the best at everything until I went to the Academy and I had a hard time asking for help," said Hudson. " I swear everyone at the Coast Guard Academy is talented in something, either academics, athletics, art, music, etc. Learning and developing in an atmosphere humbles you."
"I personally think Black History Month has slightly diminished in value because others feel like it's just another "thing" to check off or its being spoon feed to them. Regardless, I think it's still important to remind future and past generations of the struggle and progress African Americans in this country," said Hudson. "Honestly the Civil Rights Act of 1962 wasn't that long ago and it's important to remember what it took for that to be enacted."
Hudson left his mark at the Coast Guard Academy on the hardwood as he is just one of three players in school history to score over 800 points, dish out 200 assists, have over 400 rebounds and collect 150 steals and he is enjoying his career as an officer in the Coast Guard.
"It doesn't really sink in how rewarding it is being the Coast Guard until you tell someone else your story. The countless lives at sea I saved, drugs my crew prevented from entering the country all contribute to the big picture which is being a civil servant to the greatest country in the world," said Hudson. "You would be surprised to hear how many people don't have it in them to do what the 10% of people in this country do, but the best feeling in the world is when a civilian genuinely says, "Thank You". It makes all the rough times worth it."