Hudiburg, like Goodwin, goes out a champion

South Kitsap’s Elton Goodwin was a tough act to follow in terms of crafting a storybook finish to a long and distinguished career. Last spring, the Wolves’ baseball coach ended his 30-year run at SK by winning his third — and probably most satisfying — state 4A baseball title, kicking off a round of testimonials and congratulations that hasn’t abated yet.

SK wrestling coach Ron Hudiburg’s swan song last weekend lacked the drama of Goodwin’s farewell, but his career is no less distinguished and his departure leaves the school a diminished place.

Hudiburg, who announced plans to conclude his own three-decade career last year, took an unprecedented 10 South Kitsap wrestlers to the state tournament in Tacoma this year, fueling hopes the low-key coach could capture his first team title in his last season. Sadly, it was not to be, as the Wolves had to settle for a 10th-place finish in the team standings and no individual state titles.

Hudiburg himself, however, earned much-deserved Coach of the Year honors in recognition of his many years of class and leadership at South Kitsap.

Like Goodwin, Hudiburg’s legacy won’t be that his teams won — although they did with regularity. His legacy will be that the athletes who competed under him are better people for the experience.

With sports and academic scandals an almost everyday occurrence at every level from professional to pee-wee league, South Kitsap High School’s athletic programs have almost universally been a model of sportsmanship and organization in recent years. Much of the credit for that goes to leaders such as Elton Goodwin and Ron Hudiburg, as well as to the SK coaches still working at the school.

Hudiburg, like Goodwin, won’t be easy to replace. But in setting the bar so high, both have assured the community will settle for nothing less than excellence from their successors, and they’ve left their respective programs well-prepared to continue on without them.

What more could you ask of any coach — or any person?

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