By Matt Taylor, Contributing Writer
Hudson – In his first year as Hudson High School boys basketball coach, Mike Mercuri has stressed doing things the “Hudson Way,” both on and off the court. There are five areas in which Mercuri shows his players how to be champions of character, champions in the classroom, and champions on the court. His players must uphold core values; value the team first; focus on the process; defend, rebound, run and repeat; and dream and believe success.
Mercuri started shaping his team by focusing on the core values. One of those core values is selflessness. Over the holidays, the team partnered with the Hudson Coalition for the Giving to help raise money for families that were unable to purchase Christmas gifts. Players from grades 8 through 12 brought letters home to their families asking for $5 to contribute to the program. Gifts were purchased by parents of students from each grade level.
“The response was fantastic,” Mercuri said. “The program did not require a donation, but we received more than enough funds to provide some deserving children a great Christmas. It was a great all-around effort from everyone involved.”
The coalition asks for a donation of $75 for each child in the Holiday Giving program. The team was able to raise $300 to give gifts to four children.
“Hudson is a small town and a great community where people are always helping each other out. Our team hopes to follow in that tradition,” Mercuri said.
The selflessness didn's stop there, however. After a sponsor stepped up with money for a summer basketball camp that was already funded, Mercuri approached his captains and they decided to donate the money to the Hudson Food Pantry.
“The Food Pantry gave us a shopping list, and we took the school van up to BJ's in Hudson,” Mercuri said. “It was a great team-building exercise for us as we all got to know each other in addition to supporting a worthy cause.”
Hudson's captains showed leadership in organizing these initiatives, and it shows on and off the court. Senior Buzz Wood and junior Jake Loewen have not only accounted for nearly 60 percent of Hudson's points so far this year, they have helped their teammates adjust to a new coach and a new offensive system. The Hawks have started the year at 3-6, with five of their six losses coming by eight points or fewer.
“The players are doing a great job adapting to a new system,” Mercuri said. “We'se lost some close games, but there are 10 games left, our captains have showed exceptional leadership, and we have the talent to win now. ”
With Hudson's team-first focus, the teammates look to improve their record and push for a spot in the state tournament. They started with a Jan. 20 game against Tyngsborough, which Hudson won 57-53.