By Samantha Sciarrotta
Bordentown Regional High School senior Brandon Hudik was trying to keep his eyes open during the last 20 minutes of the school day a couple of months ago when he heard something that surprised him.
He and fellow senior soccer player Alexis McTamney had been named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-America team.
“[Boys’ soccer head coach Michael] Brenna made an announcement over the loudspeaker,” he said. “I had no idea what he was talking about. He said my name, and I was so shocked. I never thought in a million years that I would get something like that. There are so many good players out there. To win something like that, it took me awhile to grasp it.”
Hudik, who also plays basketball for the Scotties, was even more surprised when he received a phone call out of the blue a few weeks later. He was the recipient of the NSCAA 2013 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
“I knew that Mr. Brennan sent in a nomination, but that was it,” he said. “That just kind of blew my mind. I still can’t even really grasp it, and it’s been months. I’m just blessed. I got really lucky.”
If you ask those close to him, though, “lucky” would be the last word they used to describe Hudik.
“He is absolutely deserving of every accolade he’s received,” Brennan said. “I was so hopeful that he wouldn’t be overlooked. He is as good as they get in class and as good as they get on the field, and as good as those two things are, he’s a much better person.”
BRHS head basketball coach Kevin Wright agreed.
“He works hard,” he said. “Everything he does, he does 100 percent. He gives it his all, but the best thing about Brandon is that he’s a good person. From the first time you meet him, that’s very palpable, what a good human being he is. He deserves everything he’s been recognized for.”
Hudik received his awards at the 2013 NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis. The trip lasted from Jan. 18-20 and was packed with events like drills, conferences and banquets. Coaches and players, both professional and amateur, attended.
McTamney also attended the convention; the presence of a friend was a luxury not many other attendees had.
“That was pretty crazy,” he said. “You see people from California and all over the country who don’t know anyone there, but we actually knew each other.”
Now that the excitement has died down, Hudik is back to focusing on academics and athletics. He is number one in his class and a key member of the basketball team.
Hudik played basketball his sophomore year but took the next season off. Now that he’s back, Wright said there is a noticeable change in the team’s character.
“He knows how to cope with the hard times we have in practices or games, and the other kids really look up to that,” he said. “In practice, I know Brandon’s going to work 100 percent every single day. It doesn’t allow other kids to slack off or make excuses.”
Brennan has seen the same thing since Hudik’s first summer practice going into his freshman year.
Brennan was so impressed with Hudik, he made him a captain the following year.
“It’s rare that you can find someone who can come in and take charge yet remain extremely humble,” he said. “He’s managed to handle it from day one. That almost never happens, to have someone that young serve as captain and met with unanimous approval. Not only do the kids younger than him and his age look up to him, but the older kids look up to him, as well.”
Both Brennan and Wright said Hudik’s attitude carries over into the classroom, too.
“For Brandon, athletics and academics complement each other,” Wright said. “They both force you to be structured and organized with your time. He doesn’t have a minute to spare in his life. When homework time comes, he has to do it. If he has an exam coming up, he’ll study for it in his spare hour. They really go hand-in-hand, and he takes lessons from both.”
Hudik, though, attributes his ability to balance so much to his family.
“My parents have been one of the biggest helps,” he said. “They have always taught me that schoolwork comes first. It’s their support that has helped me. All of the people around me, Mr. Brennan, Coach Pone, my grandmom, my uncle, they all pushed me and showed me how to stay strong.”
Now that Hudik is preparing for college, that constant support is coming in handy. He applied to The College of New Jersey, Rowan University, Lafayette College, Princeton University and Yale University in pursuit of an engineering degree.
True to what his parents taught him, Hudik is basing his decision solely on academics rather than soccer. In fact, he’s not even sure if he’s going to play sports at the collegiate level.
“I’m going to play at least intramurals, but if it doesn’t work out on a higher level, I won’t be too upset,” he said. “I don’t think it would hurt, but it’s not driving my decision.”
No matter what Hudik chooses, though, Brennan said success is inevitable.
“The future holds happiness more than anything,” he said. “Brandon is a person who absolutely loves life, and all of his hard work has given him a tremendous amount of options, fantastic options that we all wish we had. He has the skill set to adjust to anything and find success in whatever he chooses.”