Andrea Hudson had never coached in a college volleyball game before former Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn selected her to become the team’s third head coach. After 30 years of registering one of the top winning marks on any collegiate level, 839 wins against just 343 defeats, Hudson announces her retirement from coaching at the end of this spring’s volleyball season.
Conn, “Coach Hudson epitomizes both the profession and the ministry of college coaching. She has led so many volleyball teams to so many accomplishments, and I have admired her talent and her style all the way. I have watched her teams play in far-flung places like California and Iowa, Florida, and Oregon, and I have always been proud of her and her teams. She will always be a paragon of what it means to be a Christian coach.”
“When you think of Lee volleyball, the first person that comes to mind is Coach Hudson. She has led the program with excellence for 30 years and it will be a big adjustment not seeing her on the bench,” admitted Athletic Director Larry Carpenter.
’She has worn two hats for several years, that of a coach and an administrator. While I am disappointed, she will no longer be on the sideline, I am excited that she will be able to devote all her energy to her administrative duties. She is an important member of our administrative team and her knowledge and leadership skills will further enhance our department as we continue to strive for excellence in everything we do.
’On a personal note, I would like to thank Coach Hudson for all the fond volleyball memories. Her success allowed me to travel all over the country to watch the Lady Flames in action at the national tournaments. Her three consecutive trips to the NAIA Final Four is an accomplishment I will never forget.”
"Coach Hudson is the longest active coach at Lee. During her entire career, she has served us at the highest level in women's athletics. She has developed some great teams over the years, but she has developed even greater student athletes. While we are sad to see Coach Hudson step down, we are very grateful that she will continue to serve in a fulltime administrative role within our athletic program,” stated Lee President Dr. Mark Walker.
With her husband Kevin always beside her on the bench, the twosome took the volleyball teams from NCCAA play and began to carve a lasting mark against NAIA competition, dominating play in three conferences, TVAC, TranSouth and SSAC. The 2004 team posted an undefeated regular season (35-0) and extended the home winning streak to 78 (second all-time in NAIA). The club also established a new record for most wins (44). Her team made the NAIA National Tournament for five consecutive years (2008-12) and reached the Final Four three times (2009, 2010, and 2011). Andrea was the winner of numerous conference and regional coaching awards, and her husband Kevin was selected as AVCA NAIA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009.
“Retiring from coaching is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. A few years ago, I told myself that coaching for 30 seasons would be a great place to end my coaching career and although this year did not pan out the way I had hoped, I have had such an enjoyable time with this group of young ladies that it seemed the perfect time to step aside. God has directed every step at Lee and allowed me to be a part of many things outside of coaching such as teaching and serving on many committees within the university,” said Coach Hudson.
“The last few years it has been my honor to work alongside Larry Carpenter as the Senior Woman Administrator in athletics. He has always been such a great mentor not only when coaching, but also in the administrative side of athletics. Being part of the administrative team is what I would like to continue in the future. Now is a great time to move forward and let Lee University find the best coach for this program.
“Coaching has truly been a huge part of mine and Kevin’s life since we began 30 years ago. I have the roster for every team and still stay in touch with so many of them,” said Hudson. “I am so grateful to Dr. Conn for taking a chance on me as a young coach and being so supportive over the years. If he was in town he was always at our games and he will never know how much that meant to me as a coach.”
“Making this difficult decision, I have also had full support from my Vice President Cole Strong along with our current president Dr. (Mark) Walker. Their enthusiasm for athletics is reassuring and makes it a place hard to leave.
The MaryEllen Locher Foundation is a national college scholarship program for children who have either lost a parent to breast cancer or have a parent who is a breast cancer survivor. The organization was founded in 2002 by MaryEllen Locher, a long-time news anchor and health reporter for WTVC in Chattanooga, Tennessee. MaryEllen passed away in 2005 after her third bout with cancer. She started the foundation because she was concerned about her own son’s future education. The awards are designed to ease the financial and emotional burdens faced by families dealing with breast cancer.
Coach Hudson along with her sisters and several members of the community embraced what MaryEllen Locher was trying to accomplish and created a huge Volley for a Cure event. Each year during a volleyball match, which has drawn hundreds to the annual event, Volley for a Cure created a scholarship that was given to area students who had been affected in some way by breast cancer.
“Volley for a Cure and all the money was raised by our community to support such a worthy cause,” pointed out Coach Hudson. “This would not have happened without all my sisters joining in to help me with this endeavor and I am eternally grateful to them. (Coach Hudson was at the NCAA DII Convention in 2015 to accept the prestigious NCAA DII Award of Excellence for the university’s work in promoting the annual Volley for A Cure.)
“I would like to thank my husband and assistant coach Kevin. Without him we would never have enjoyed our success,” stressed Coach Hudson. “Every win has his name on it and coaching with your spouse has been one of my greatest joys.
In the fall of 2009, we were blessed to get the opportunity to raise my niece and two nephews. That same year we made it to the Final Four for the first of three consecutive years.
Andrea said her family was very important during her career. Coaching with Kevin and seeing her sisters, nieces, and most importantly having her mom in the stands was extremely emotional. “My Mom was in the stands for almost all my entire coaching career, and then enjoying having her become part of the Lee Athletic Hall of Fame is an honor she truly cherished. I enjoyed the opportunity to coach three family members, my sister Yvonne May (softball) and two nieces Bree Whaley and Taylor White in volleyball.
“Coaching becomes your life at some point and not having that aspect will feel very strange. I know Lee will hire a first-class coach and my job in athletic administration will be to encourage and support the new coach and the volleyball team each year. I am glad to still be able to work in athletics and with all the coaches. It is such a great place to come to work every day and my prayer is to step into my other role 100% and help Lee University athletics be at the top of the conference in every way possible,” said Coach Hudson in closing.
“Although Coach Hudson’s career will end after the spring season, her contributions to Lee athletics will continue for years to come,” concluded Carpenter.