Clark Joseph Hudak Sr., City College coach

World War II veteran, teacher and wrestling coach won MSA championships

  • Clark Hudak
Clark Hudak
May 14, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Clark Joseph Hudak Sr., a retired City College athletic coach and World War II veteran, died Monday of pneumonia at his Towson home. He was 90.

He was the youngest of nine children born to immigrant Czechoslovakian parents. His father owned a Highlandtown bar. He was raised by his eldest sister after the deaths of his parents.

He excelled at sports at Patterson Park High School, where he was a 1940 graduate. He was a four-year starter on Patterson's baseball and soccer teams and was later named to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mr. Hudak earned a degree in physical education at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he played soccer and baseball.

He belonged to the Reserve Officers Training Corps and during World War II attended Officer's Training School at Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to the South Pacific and was a motor pool infantry patrol leader on Okinawa. At war's end, he was assigned to Korea and later decommissioned as a lieutenant.

After the war, he taught at Hamilton Junior High School, where he met his future wife, Michelina Maria Valle, a foreign language teacher.

Mr. Hudak joined the faculty at City College and taught physical education. In 1959, he was named junior varsity soccer coach. He also coached baseball and was best known as the varsity wrestling coach.

"He was low-key and pleasant. He was not a shout-and-holler kind of coach," said J. Joseph Brune, a former coach at City College and Loyola Blakefield.

Family members said he was known as "the Gray Fox" for his prematurely gray hair as well as his cunning and tactical wizardry.

His teams captured five Maryland Scholastic Association wrestling championships, retiring the Lehigh Cup.

"My father was always pushing, motivating and encouraging," said Daniel A. Hudak of Timonium. "He also had his critical side. After a high school lacrosse game in which I thought I performed very well, his first words to me were, 'You looked slow out there.'"

"He was an excellent coach who could take guys who had never wrestled before and make them into MSA champions," said former Sun columnist and City College graduate Gregory Kane, who now writes for the Washington Examiner. "He would go out to other teams and scout them. He weighed our opponents' strengths and advised us accordingly. He was a good motivator and a great teacher."

After leaving City College in the 1970s, Mr. Hudak returned to Hamilton Junior High as a vice principal. He retired nearly 30 years ago.

"He enjoyed his braunschweiger sandwiches, crab cakes and a cold beer," said another son, Clark J. Hudak Jr. of Columbia. "He also liked golf, dancing, playing cards and watching the Orioles, Colts and Ravens. He had a high sports IQ and was a great strategist. He would explain what a coach should be doing next to gain the upper hand."

Mr. Hudak coached his children in Towson and Loch Raven recreation leagues.

He was a Maryland Terrapins fan — he wore the school's hats and slept under a Terps blanket. He and his wife were regulars in College Park for football and basketball games.

Services were held Friday at the Nazareth Lutheran Church, where he was a member.

In addition to his sons, survivors include three other sons, Paul R. Hudak of New Haven, Conn., David J. Hudak of Middletown and J. Gregory Hudak of Baltimore; a daughter, Elizabeth L.M. Hudak of Ellicott City; a sister, Elma Morse of Perry Hall; 14 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife of 59 years died in 2009.

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