A fixture at Collins Hill and the Gwinnett County running scene for nearly a quarter century is headed elsewhere.
Longtime Eagles cross country and track and field coach Andrew Hudson informed his runners this week that he has accepted a language arts/English teaching position at Denmark, a first-year high school in nearby Forsyth County. He expects to scale back his sports duties next year, but sees a return to coaching at some point in the future.
Hudson, who turned 50 in January, is one of the most successful coaches in his sport, having led the Eagles to 11 team state championships in his 24-year career at the Suwanee high school. He was hired at Collins Hill in its second year of existence.
“I may get an assistant track position (at Denmark), but I’m definitely taking big steps back,” said Hudson, who also got married last October. “I’d certainly be interested in being a volunteer if they’d like my help. … I’ve been thinking about this for a few years. The first year or two I just wasn’t ready. Last year I was ready, but nothing really worked out. This year I threw my net out again and it worked out at Denmark and I really liked the school. They’ve just got great energy there. I’m excited about the opportunity.
“Obviously, it’s going to be very emotional leaving Collins Hill. It’s been part of my identity for almost all my professional life. … I definitely want to coach again. It just wasn’t part of the equation at this point. I just felt really compelled to make a move. I just needed a move, not for one reason in particular, but for a lot of factors. I’ve been here a long time, so I was looking for something new.”
Hudson ran on four high school state championship teams in his native Virginia, winning the individual state title in 1986, and was a two-time MVP and All-ACC selection at the University of Virginia. He began his coaching career at Riverside Military from 1991-95, then was hired as an assistant girls track and field coach at Collins Hill.
He became the Eagles’ head girls track and field coach in his second season, then was head coach in cross country and track, for one or both genders at various times, throughout his Collins Hill tenure.
Collins Hill’s girls programs were dynasties under Hudson, winning six straight cross country team titles from 2003-08, as well as track and field titles in 2003 and from 2006-08. The Eagles also won the boys cross country state title in 2007. The running program also had an amazing run of seven straight individual girls champions in Georgia’s largest classification.
In 2017, Hudson was inducted into the Gwinnett County Track and Cross Country Hall of Fame.
“When you think about running at Collins Hill, you automatically think about Andrew Hudson, or Huddy, as we all know him,” Collins Hill athletic and activities director Scarlett Straughan said. “He and Richard Ramsey built tremendous programs in track and field and cross country here at Collins Hill. He has worked countless hours and run many miles to help our teams be the best they could possibly be. Huddy has been coach and mentor to countless student-athletes and we will miss him tremendously.
“We are excited for him as he ventures into this new chapter, and hope he knows that we will always consider him an Eagle.”
Hudson is going to miss plenty about Collins Hill, too.
“I have some great colleagues (at Collins Hill),” Hudson said. “First and foremost, (principal) Kerensa Wing has just been incredible. As a principal, as a leader, but also she has just handled this whole process with so much support and so much encouragement. She’s just amazing, a tremendous leader. And Collins Hill has great leadership in general. I just have great colleagues. The kids I coach, I’m definitely going to miss them. … I’m so thankful for Collins Hill and all that it’s been to me over the years, how much support I’ve received from parents, runners, students and administrators. It’s been overwhelming.
"One of the keys to our success at Collins Hill for so long is we had such continuity in the coaching staff. We also had a tremendous amount of support that allowed us to do everything we’ve needed to do to be successful.”