Not everybody takes a chance to be the fish out of water, but that’s exactly what 2004 Black Hawk graduate Elisha Hudson did. After a stellar athletic career in high school, Hudson went on to play college basketball at UW-Milwaukee, then moved west and eventually landed in Los Angeles, where she won a body building competition and now leads a “lavish” lifestyle.
Twenty years ago as she was about to enter high school, Hudson said she had no idea what laid in store for her future. She remembers growing up on the family farm and finding peace in the 100-plus acres of nature around her.
“Being in the country is so purifying and gave me so much clarity and freedom to think and dream,” she said. “Growing up on a dairy farm, (I) never would’ve dreamed to live in Los Angeles with a hugely successful career and lavish lifestyle. I’ve learned to take every single opportunity you get and run with it.”
Hudson, daughter of John and Kristi Hudson, and sister to Sarah and Nathan Hudson, was a star across the board at Black Hawk. At 5-11, she was a menace on the volleyball court and dominated the post in basketball. In track, she and three friends broke the school record in the 100-meter relay. She was also a member of National Honor Society.
“You never forget the people you have success with. I’m sure our record is broken by now,” Hudson said.
It was, in 2008.
“I received a scholarship to play college ball, which pushed me outside of my comfort zone and learned how to compete in sports and life,” she said.
After high school she attended UW-Milwaukee, earning the team’s Most Improved Player award her freshman season as the team went 14-14. The next year the Panthers reached the NCAA Tournament and finished 22-9 overall. She saw action in 18 games over that time, which included three starts.
She transferred to Fresno Pacific University and played two more years. Hudson also competed in track for the Sunbirds in 2009, throwing hammer and shot put under former Olympian Tom Pagani.
“That was a really fun experience, to be a thrower for someone at that level,” she said.
Hudson finished her exercise science degree and continued down her path of staying physically fit and active.
She spent eight years as a fitness trainer and manager. Some of the clients at her gym, Equinox, included NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and hip-hop personality DJ Khaled.
“I trained Slim Jxmmi (Aaquil Brown) from Rae Sremmard, and met Keenen (Ivory) Wayans at Equinox as a member — he’s super nice,” she said of hip-hop artist Brown and actor Wayans. “I also trained with Autumn Calabrese at Equinox (and) worked with her, she’s now a famous fitness mogul.”
Not only was she training clients, but she was keeping up with her own fitness and began to compete as a fitness competitor and model. In 2011 she won first place in the Novice division and second in the Open category at the Natural Central Valley Muscle competition. In 2012, Hudson was the first-place finisher in the Open Overall category at the Muscle Beach Labor Day competition.
“Winning Muscle Beach Overall was probably my biggest accomplishment in fitness,” she said, adding that she was in Iron Man magazine because of her competitive modeling.
However, the route was not to last.
“My knee injury prevented me from a career in fitness,” she said. Looking for something new, the competitive spirit inside of her opened her eyes to an entirely new career path. “The financial industry always was interesting to me, so I tried it. I’ve always been, like, at the top of my career, or whatever I do. I guess I’m just competitive.”
Hudson is now a field manager at Asurea, a life insurance company where she has quickly climbed the ladder. After leaving the realty industry at the end of 2017 and switching to insurance, she said her path in life became much clearer.
“When I was ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2018, my first year at Asurea, I was promoted to manager and top-5 in the entire company in life production,” she said.
With all she’s accomplished already, she said she doesn’t have any regrets with past career choices. “I don’t, because I think everything happens for a reason and our experiences, whether good or bad, develop us into who we are.”
Hudson said that young people need “to never stop growing, and never limit” themselves. “Know that when you graduate high school, that is the beginning of your learning — the beginning of your life’s journey. No matter what circumstances, social status or how popular you are in high school — only you can determine your destination.”
She said she’s pleased with where she’s at in life — in her job and location. Hudson admitted she gets paid well and loves the city life of Los Angeles. She enjoys visiting the bordering mountains, beaches, local restaurants and businesses, and she’s met a slew of celebrities and actors over the past decade-plus.
“I mean, 15 minutes from the beach, boat trips in the summer, high-rise apartment,” she said. “You can’t beat the beaches here, the weather and the money.”
She plans to call Los Angeles home for a while.
She still travels home a couple of times a year and recently purchased her first property — in the Monroe area.
“(I’m) sticking to my roots,” she said of the local purchase, though with one caveat. “I’m building a house for my parents, but not for me — I’m staying here.”