By Milan Joshi
“I’ve played sports all my life,” said athletic director Rusty Hudson.
Rusty Hudson’s athletic career began his freshman year in high school, when he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. He repeated this feat in his sophomore year, adding a letter in track and field when he long jumped on days when there wasn’t a baseball game. This continued through his senior year, when he finished with a grand total of 14 letters.
Hudson attended Wofford College on a baseball and academic scholarship, and was a four-year starter on their baseball team. From there, he went on to coach football and basketball at a junior high school in South Carolina. After this, he coached football, basketball, and track in Atlanta. His career as an athletic director began at Lakeshore High School, and he later took on the mantle of Westminster’s athletic director after Bob Ward’s retirement
The position of athletic director involves a plethora of components, and the responsibilities go far beyond the obvious. The main and most visible part of the athletic director’s role for the school is to attend sporting events. While surely enjoying the game, Hudson does have other roles besides merely spectating. He is in charge of monitoring the conduct of the fans and making sure that they behave in a manner that best reflects the school and its students. He also evaluates coaches and teams.
Another major role of the athletic director is managing the athletic budget. Hudson is responsible for making sure that each sport has the appropriate budget for uniforms, equipment, and other necessities. He also makes sure that coaches are paid the correct amounts at the end of their seasons.
The athletic director must also ensure that updates and repairs are made to the athletic facilities, as well as plan for the future in terms of what space and equipment the school will need moving forward.
A critical responsibility that Hudson holds is that of selecting, interviewing, and hiring coaches. While Hudson has the right to employ community coaches, he cannot hire teacher-coaches because he cannot verify that they meet the needs of their particular academic department. He must, however, interview all those interested in coaching to determine if they will fit the needs of the athletic programs.
To fulfill all of these duties, an athletic director must have a certain set of qualities, and Hudson has them all. The first requirement is having coached before taking the step up to becoming an administrator.
“Unless you have coached,” said Hudson, “you can’t be a good athletic administrator.”
Having coached a team at any level helps an administrator to be adept at understanding the problems and hardships that coaches and teams go through, and this allows them to be more capable of handling these situations when they arise. Hudson has coached numerous teams, and this is one of the reasons he makes such a phenomenal athletic director. Drawing on his coaching experiences has helped him to relate to the coaches as well.
“The biggest thing he [Hudson] does is make it very clear that he still views himself as a coach rather than just an administrator, and so any decision he makes is always from a coach’s perspective,” said varsity girls lacrosse coach Brooks Batcheller. “He is a coach of coaches.”
Other qualities an athletic director must have are diplomacy, the ability to diffuse tensions in heated situations, and the ability to earn the respect of coaches, players, and other administrators.
Rusty Hudson is Machiavellian in the sense that he would much rather have earned the respect of his colleagues than be liked by them, although it seems he’s managed to do both.
“He [Hudson] works hard for the coaches, he sticks up for the coaches, and he tries to give them everything they need,” said ninth-grade football coach George Berry. “He expresses his appreciation for the coaches and athletes, and the athletic department is a well-oiled machine because of his leadership.”
Assistant athletic facilities supervisor Thomas Morse, a former student-athlete of Hudson’s at Westlake High School, echoes the resounding praise throughout the athletic program for Hudson.
“Coach Hudson has positively impacted the Westminster athletic program by reminding all coaches and staff that our purpose is to aid in the leadership and character development of each athlete,” said Morse. “He constantly provides us with literature that supports his belief that ‘sport’ is simply the vehicle in which we, as coaches, effect change.”
Hudson is a man of many talents, and in addition to the work he has put into our athletic program, he is an avid golfer and enjoys going to train shows and collecting Lionel electric trains, although his most enjoyable time is spent with his grandchildren, who both attend Westminster.