‘7 Things’ with Mark Hudspeth, Gulf Shores High School's head football coach

BY COLE MCNANNA
Posted 1/23/23

Mark Hudspeth’s journey to the Alabama Gulf Coast is like and unlike many who now call it home.

Like many, it’s where his family came to vacation. However, their path here was …

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‘7 Things’ with Mark Hudspeth, Gulf Shores High School's head football coach

Posted

Mark Hudspeth’s journey to the Alabama Gulf Coast is like and unlike many who now call it home.

Like many, it’s where his family came to vacation. However, their path here was different because the Hudspeths have been riding the football coaching roller coaster for 30 years now after his first two seasons as the Gulf Shores Dolphins’ head football coach.

A few of those stops included sharing the same coaching room with former LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and former South Alabama head coach Steve Campbell at Nicholls State, earning four straight bowl wins as the head coach of the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and, most recently, hosting the first home playoff game in Gulf Shores football history.

There has been plenty of winning, paired with the corresponding losses, but along the way, Hudspeth has remained true to a few core values and holds a few things near and dear to his heart.

Here are seven things and values that define him, according to the man himself.

Editor's note: This article originally published in Beachin', a lifestyle magazine from Gulf Coast Media that explores people, places and things across Baldwin County and along the Alabama Gulf Coast. To read the magazine in full, find free copies in racks around Baldwin County, at our office in Foley, in our bi-weekly newsletter at www.gulfcoastmedia.com/newsletter or here.

  1. FAMILY

Hudspeth, his wife, Tyla, and their five children visited their summer home in Gulf Shores often. Once the pandemic hit and following Hudspeth’s time in the college ranks, they decided not to leave.

He said he felt he wasn’t done coaching yet and picked up a job with the youth rec league before eventually accepting the job to lead the Dolphins. Now, he’ll have a chance to coach his younger sons, Major (seventh grade), Captain (second) and Rocky (pre-school), when they get to that level.

Hudspeth’s two older children, Gunner and Carley, are also both heavily involved in sports. Gunner is in his third year as a graduate assistant football coach at Troy University, and Carley is in her fifth year of college basketball with Mississippi College after four years at the University of Central Arkansas.

  1. FAITH

Another major facet of his life goes through up-and-down seasons as it does with football.

“Everybody goes through different seasons of their faith, and I'm in one of the strongest seasons I've been in,” Hudspeth said. “Just thankful for how the Lord has blessed me and my family here in Gulf Shores and on the island.”

  1. CAREER

Part of those blessings include 30 years of coaching during which he’s collected 170 wins as a head coach between high school and college.

Hudspeth was honored by the Touchdown Club of New Orleans as the college coach of the year and by the American Football Coaches Association as a regional coach of the year, and he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Delta State University where he played and coached.

The biggest thing he’s learned through it all?

“There's an old saying, ‘Things are never as bad as they seem and never as good as they seem either,’” Hudspeth recounted. “So, I've tried to keep a little more even keel, although that's not really who I am.”

  1. PASSION

If you’ve shaken Hudspeth’s hand, you could probably have felt the excitement he brings to every interaction.

“I like bringing energy to everything that I do. I try to bring the juice,” Hudspeth said. “I believe in not doing anything unless you do it with enthusiasm. Everybody that I talk to, I'm going to try to make them feel like they're the most important person in the room, let them know how much I appreciate them. I think when you ask people, ‘Hey, what about Coach Hud?’ I hope somebody will say, ‘Man, he's got passion, and he loves what he does.’”

  1. FOOTBALL

By now it should be clear one of his passions is football, but it’s not for the accolades and the titles. Rather, he appreciates the life lessons its young players get to learn.

“Imagine every little community that has a high school team, and then picture them at three o'clock every day turning out every kid on the street and not having a football. If there was no football and these guys didn't come down and be around men, men of character, men that work them hard and hold them accountable, that sometimes have to discipline them, what would our country look like if they were out of school hanging out in the street? Who knows?”

  1. FRIENDSHIPS

He’s been able to develop relationships with those men of character and has remained close with his coaching tree network.

‘I've got so many friends that I keep in touch with all across the country,” Hudspeth said. “I'm so appreciative of so many friends that have been there for me, in good times and bad, and the experiences we've had together.”

  1. HOBBIES

There’s not a lot of time in the offseason, so Hudspeth doesn’t get too far away from the game. But when he does, he likes to hang around his family.

“Boating, traveling and weightlifting are the things that I enjoy the most,” he said, “and honestly most of those I can do with my family.”

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