Hudson plays the game the right way
I have sat in this chair for a little more than 10 years, talking and writing about and taking photos of a lot of high school athletes.
It’s great to be in this profession.
Many went to play college athletics all over the spectrum.
I have the pleasure of watching young men and women succeed on many levels in all sports.
Cheyenne Hudson is the best girls soccer player I have seen in a decade and there have been a lot of good ones.
It’s not just because she scores goals in bunches and has almost 100 for her career.
It’s the way she plays.
I’ve seen a lot of kids play hard.
This is different.
“How you describe my way of playing as a style makes me laugh because I don’t feel like I play any style,” she said. “I just play. I just play with passion maybe. I guess I have always played like this and I think it’s just because I love the game of soccer so much. I enjoy every second of sprinting and all the sweat and dirt and pain and everything.
“Also I believe, one, if I don’t push myself I’ll never get better, and two, I am a part of a team and if I’m not giving that team everything I have, then I have no right to ask the same of them.
“I will give 101 percent to try and get this team somewhere not only because these girls deserve it, but because I know any one of these girls would do the same for me.
“The only time I think I have ever considered myself as playing with a style was back when I was playing for the Force travel team when a team would make me mad. I would start playing like a crazy woman and give every ounce I had and maybe even didn’t have, and I would call it my ‘total war mode.’
“That’s the only time I think that how I play could be classified as a style. If anything it’s just passionately playing.
“I’ve played like this ever since the first time on a soccer field when I was 6 which because I just truly love the game of soccer.”
Hudson plays with reckless abandon, yet, it’s not reckless.
It’s, like she said, passionate.
She can go from zero to 60 in, like, now.
She just plays.
There can be a ton of trash in athletics in the way players play and what comes out of their mouth.
That’s not Hudson.
In fact, I don’t really think she talks.
If she says a thing or two to the opponents, I have never heard it.
I’m sure there have been things said, I am saying my ears have never heard it.
Hudson has a level of toughness that is fun to watch.
She is a leader in every sense of the word.
In fact, a referee took it upon himself after Brooke lost in PKs at Parkersburg South in the OVAC semifinals to put in words his experience with Hudson in that encounter and send it to the WVSSAC.
“I have been officiating soccer for a number of years and I have witnessed the best and the worst of team sportsmanship. Yesterday, Sept. 24, during a game between Parkersburg South and Brooke varsity girls soccer, I was privileged to witness just how good sportsmanship can get at this level and how important is it to the game and the players.
“I want to commend to you, the administration and coaching staff, the incredible positive impact Cheyenne Hudson for Brooke had on the game, her calming presence and leadership, and her unique ability to help her teammates remain calm, focused and positive in a game that had important playoff implications. All of the officials working this game with me singled her out as an tenacious player ‘with an amazing attitude that changed the way the game was played.’
“At the end of regulation time, with the game ending in a tie, we gather for a coin toss for the start of overtime for the OVAC tournament. It was Cheyenne who set the tone by congratulating and thanking the home team captains from Parkersburg South for a great game played fairly and cleanly.
“You could just see the anxiety and stress and emotion of the moment dissipate as the home team returned the compliment and thanked Brooke captains as a great team who had given their all.
“Without Cheyenne’s composure and confidence, I can’t help wonder how/if the game would have deteriorated into a competitive brawl and lost the spirit of the game.
“Therefore, on behalf of the officiating crew that evening, I would like to single out and recognize Cheyenne Hudson of Brooke High School for demonstrating the finest example of sportsmanship, courtesy and leadership that I have witnessed in many years. Thank you!”
There you go.
In that game, Hudson sustained a concussion and sat about two weeks.
I asked her how hard it was to be a bystander.
“Is this even a question? It was so hard to sit out during practices and games,” she said. “Concussions are especially hard because not only do you never really know when you’ll be symptom free, but also it’s not like a broken leg where you can’t physically run. You could run, and it’s so tempting, but you just have to have control and hold back.
“That is really hard for me. I hate not being able to anything and having to sit out and watch two games and all of those practices was painful. It was especially hard knowing this is my senior year. Luckily the one game (with Edison) got canceled and rescheduled and now I’m back.
“I am so excited to be back. But being out with a concussion during my senior year and not being able to do anything was so hard.”
I have seen high school athletics be downright ugly and many soccer games that have crossed that line.
Hudson gets it.
She plays the game the way every athletic event should be played.
Ask the boys who were on the U14 team years ago that current Madonna girls soccer head coach Bob Kolanko coached.
Ask them about the girl who played, broke a finger, had it set and wrapped and came back to play the next game.
Ask them about the girl who injured her foot, came out of the game, and, with the game on the line, told coach she was ready to go. She put her shoe back on and helped preserve a 2-1 victory.
Kolanko received a phone call that night that Cheyenne had broken her foot.
Imagine that conversation among Kolanko and the boys the next practice about playing with everything they had without complaints.
Or, ask former Brooke coach Lee Weppler about the time he took her out of a game at Morgantown with a 3-0 lead. The Mohigans scored a couple of goals and all he heard was the tap of her cleats on the metal stands.
Weppler didn’t have to turn around.
He knew what that meant.
Cheyenne scored her fourth goal in a matter of minutes in the 4-2 victory.
Brooke is now in the win-or-go-home part of the season, with today’s 5:30 p.m. home contest with Parkersburg South as Class AAA sectional play begins.
“I really can’t imagine what soccer is going to be like for me next year at the collegiate level, but I know not being with Leila (Hannaoui) is going to be strange,” Hudson said about her partner in crime for the Bruins’ offense. “Once you’re used to playing with someone who can read your every thought, who basically knows your next move, and who has always been right there with you through numerous years, no matter what. getting used to someone else is always going to be hard.
“However, I hope going in to play at the collegiate level I’ll have girls that have surpassed both Leila’s and my own skills that will be right there to back me up and I’ll learn to connect with them. However, I will miss Leila, along with many of my teammates like MeKenzie DeFranco, my best friend since freshman year varsity together, and others immensely.
“The college recruiting process is, well, it’s going. However, if you ask my mother it’s not going at all. I have to admit I’m not the best decision maker and I’ve been putting things on the back burner for a while now. I’ve talked with numerous schools, one being the University of Pittsburgh, which is kind of the one I’m leaning toward.
“It’s a great school with a great soccer program that’s close enough for family and friends to come and watch. (Also there is a Noodles & Company restaurant up there!) I’ll most likely, probably go to Pitt, but I’m not for sure on anything yet (except the noodle place) and still a little lost in all the commotion and decisions of college but I’m getting there surely, but slowly.”
Wherever she goes, a college is going to get a unique individual – someone as passionate about hunting as well as hunting goals.
She plays the game at full tilt from the go and is a pleasure to watch.
I cannot say enough how she just plays the game the right way.
That is a credit to a lot of people, most important on that list is her parents.
“I never could have been where I am today if it wasn’t for my parents who drove all those miles for every game, practice, or tournament and all the support they have given me throughout all the smelly cleats, all the injuries, and all years,” Cheyenne said.
“There’s also my Pap who is like my biggest fan and is always rooting me on to keep going. I can’t thank everyone who has ever helped me enough.”