Former Gator walk-on Fricke finds new competitive outlet

Former UF basketball walk-on Hudson Fricke takes part in a regional CrossFit competition. [Submitted photo]

Hudson Fricke spent three seasons a walk-on for the Florida men’s basketball program, playing sparingly from 2007-10 while pushing teammates in practices.

Fast-forward eight years and Fricke has found a different competitive outlet, a lifestyle and a business opportunity in the sport of CrossFit.

Fricke, 29, came upon the sport somewhat by accident. The 6-foot-1 guard finished his college career at Milligan College in Elizabethtown, Tenn., helping lead the NAIA school to a conference title while earning conference player of the year honors. Fricke then returned to his native Greenville, S.C., but didn’t give up on his dreams of playing pro basketball. He even explored trying to obtain dual American-German citizenship to have a better chance to land a spot on a German team.

I was working with friends here in town, flipping houses, playing basketball as much as I could, and kind of stumbled upon this thing called CrossFit during that time as well,” Fricke said. 

Fricke found himself drawn to the workout regimen that incorporates elements of high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics and calisthenics. He became a certified CrossFit instructor and six years ago started an affiliated gym, Southern Moon CrossFit, with a high school friend, Dave Schlarb Jr. In six years, the gym has grown, with five coaches, including Fricke, overseeing 90 clients.

“We kind of want to stay pretty intimate and that keeps our product to a much higher quality of product,” Fricke said.

As a standout athlete, Fricke became attracted to the competitive side of CrossFit as well. He began taking part in CrossFit competitions and twice, was ranked as the number one CrossFit athlete in South Carolina. Four times, Fricke has qualified for CrossFit regionals, but has come up just short in taking part in the annual national CrossFit games, which takes place the first week of August. The top five from regional competitions qualify nationally. The highest Fricke has finished at regionals was seventh in 2015.

Fricke said he enjoys the competitions, but views CrossFit as more than local or national rankings.

It’s the greatest transition program, the greatest community builder,” Fricke said. “It’s done wonders for so many people, including myself personally, my family.”

Fricke said he’s taken the lessons learned from his three years at Florida under renowned former Gator basketball coach Billy Donovan into his adult life. During the 2008-09 season, Fricke broke both wrists in a freak weightlifting accident when an exercise ball popped while he was lifting weights on it. Initially, Fricke said it caused him to reflect on where his basketball career was going and how to accept his role on the team.

“Any time you have adversity there is always a way to respond, there are two ways to respond to it, it can be in a positive way for yourself or the moving forward progression, or there can be a negative response it,” Fricke said. “At the time I was definitely in a tight spot, emotionally and physically.”

Fricke said he chose to take a positive response, “The change for me was, hey let’s change my attitude about this, let’s change how I’m looking at this,” he said.

Fricke said he still plays pickup basketball a few times a week in Greenville. He still follows Gator basketball as often as he can and texts Donovan on occasion.

“He’s probably the greatest mentor in my life and the things that I learned from him have been implemented in everything I do in a positive way,” Fricke said.

Fricke said he still has a window of about two to three years to try to qualify for the CrossFit nationals. Whether that happens or not, Fricke said he’s found a lifetime sport.

“It kind of filled that void for me of training,” Fricke said. “I was always big on training and getting into the gym and getting shots up and now instead of getting shots up it was rowing or lifting weights or running or doing something else, just some type of physical training for myself personally. 

“The business side of it, I really enjoy trying to passionately pursue people that I could better and really help their lifestyle and help their lives and coach them through whatever they are at in their lives and use CrossFit as the means to make an impact in others.”