Bounce Back

Santa Clara basketball player Marya Hudgins ’26 talks about her career-halting injury and the need for more women’s basketball recognition.

Bounce Back

Despite spending countless practices in agonizing pain on the Athletic Excellence Center floor, Santa Clara basketball player Marya Hudgins ’26 did not want to let her team down and unknowingly played her freshman season with a severely inflamed fibula.

After she’d gone from scoring double-digit points a game to zero toward the season’s end, Hudgins’ trainers requested MRI scans that revealed she had been training with an intense stress fracture. And just when Hudgins thought it couldn’t get worse, the X-rays came in three days before her West Coast Conference Tournament debut, making her ineligible to play. Brutal.

Santa Clara Magazine caught up with Hudgins to discuss her road to recovery.

Santa Clara Magazine: What was it like dealing with a career-halting injury?

Marya Hudgins: “I went through a hard time at the end of this season. I was dealing with this terrible pain in my fibula. My trainers thought it was just tendonitis, but I’d be crying on the weight room floor while my teammates were lifting. People kept telling me it wasn’t a big deal, so I continued to play, unknowingly injured for over six weeks. My progress went down the drain, which completely shot my confidence. I went from being a leading scorer to putting up practically nothing. Three days before the WCC Tournament, we received MRI scans confirming that I’d been playing on a stress fracture and was removed from the season. It honestly felt like a fever dream. I’m thankfully healing now, but I cannot believe I managed to play with a fracture for that long. It was mentally and physically taxing, for sure.”

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Santa Clara basketball player Marya Hudgins ’26 playing in a game against Stanford. Photos provided by Hudgins.

SCM: How did you handle the criticism that came with your injury?

Hudgins: “It was a stressful period. I was in so much pain every single practice, but nobody thought it was a big deal. It was difficult hearing people say I was being ‘soft’ or that I was playing the worst while I was suffering every single game. I felt some pressure, especially being a woman in sports, to prove I wasn’t exaggerating or being weak; it was hard. It made me realize how much I value being seen as more than an athlete, like a human. Our coaching staff does a great job of making us feel seen and heard; they always prioritize mental health days when needed. Critiques and negativity are two different things. I have learned to differentiate whose feedback I value the most. I focus on what my coaches and teammates have to say, not the random negativity.”

SCM: The men’s team has had NBA draft buzz. How can we better support and recognize the women’s team’s hard work?

Hudgins: “In the fall, our program was frustrated at the lack of media coverage allotted to us. I love the boys so much, but it was hard seeing Athletics give them way more interview and marketing opportunities than us when we work equally as hard. Things are definitely looking up, especially with girls like Angel Reese [of Louisiana State University, the 2023 NCAA national champion] and Caitlin Clark [of University of Iowa] getting more global support, which helps women’s players all across the world. I strongly encourage SCU students and staff to do their best to support women’s teams, not just basketball, the way most do with men’s sports. I mean, we’re equally as fun to watch. We just don’t dunk!”

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