Hudson High School basketball program honored by MIAA
By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Hudson – The Hudson High School Hawks varsity basketball team may have ended their last season with a less-than-stellar 4-17 record, but when it comes to helping their community, they’re considered champions.
The Hawks were awarded the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Community Service Award at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield April 12.
“It's always part of the plan to make sure to have a community service component to what we do,” said Hawks’ Basketball Coach Michael Mercuri. “Hudson is a town where people always give back.”
This is the first time Hudson has received the award, and recognition of the team's good works was one of Mercuri's goals.
“It feels good to get recognized for what we did,” said Jake Loewen, Hudson High School senior and one of the captains of the varsity team.
The Hawks undertook several community-service activities over the past year.
Through the Hudson Holiday Coalition for the Giving, members of the entire basketball program sponsored a family with three children, ages 7, 10, and 13 during the holidays. Each player was asked to donate $5 to the family, and Mercuri said he was “blown away” at the number of team members who came in with higher amounts. As a result, the family was provided with $250 worth of gifts for the holiday season.
The team is also being recognized for helping to feed hundreds of hungry people. After practice on Dec. 23, 2012, the varsity team, managers, and coaching staff took two buses to the Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence. Wearing Santa hats, the team prepped and served meals for 300 people, and then stayed to clean up.
“Performing that service so close to Christmas sent a message home on how fortunate we are,” Mercuri said. “I love how they responded.”
Last summer, the Hawks served as role models as they hosted a basketball clinic for children in grades 4 through 7. In January, the team hosted the Nashoba Valley Special Olympics Basketball Team for a scrimmage, where they helped athletes with special needs
Loewen said it was important for the team to lead by example.
“That's something the coach really stressed,” he said. “Everyone should get out there and help. At the end of the day, it helps you feel better.”
“We hold our kids to high standards on and off the court,” Mercuri said. “We want our kids to be seen as leaders in the community and leaders in the school.”
He continued: “We want to make sure we’re represented in a positive light. It's not just all about us and basketball. We can have an impact that goes further than wins and losses. When you look at the big picture, we won only four games this year, but we changed a lot of people's lives. It's what we did off the court that will be remembered.”
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