Phil Hudson had one year to prove himself and that’s exactly what he did.
Last season, the legendary high school coach was hired on an interim basis to lead the University of Winnipeg Wesmen women’s volleyball team. In the three seasons before Hudson’s arrival, the Wesmen were a dreadful 7-65. But the longtime Dakota Collegiate coach managed to turn things around and led the U of W to a 9-15 record, which got them into the Canada West playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
The Wesmen still did their due diligence and conducted a nationwide search, but in the end, it was hard to ignore what Hudson accomplished, and what players had to say about him. On Wednesday morning, Hudson became a full-time coach.
“The thing that I got from the athletes from watching them and talking to them, and I met with the leadership group, was sort of a sense of joy… When athletes get to their third or fourth year, it almost becomes a bit of a job. Going to practice every day is a difficult thing to do. But the kids seemed to have a sense of happiness,” said Wesmen athletic director Dave Crook.
“Going to practice every day didn’t seem to be a task for them. They were excited about being there. I think that was it. The way he approaches the job and the way he approaches coaching, he brought a sense of excitement and happiness to the athletes.”
Hudson guided the Dakota Collegiate varsity boys to five provincial titles in his 31 seasons at the high school. He won his first pair of provincial crowns in the 1980s when he coached at West Kildonan Collegiate. The 63-year-old said there haven’t been many opportunities to coach at the U Sports level in the province over the years and he’s happy to finally get his shot.
“It’s pretty exciting. I feel fortunate to work with the team again moving forward,” Hudson said. “I really enjoyed this past year and the team progressed quite a bit. We’re looking forward to continuing the progression and I feel pretty fortunate to have this opportunity, that’s for sure.”
Hudson was asked what his vision is for the program.
“We just want to be a program that the top kids in Manitoba and around Canada would look at coming to take part in,” he said.
“We obviously want to be competitive with the top teams in Canada West and we showed lots of times last year that we were and we’d like to continue moving forward in that manner.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.