PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – As the community grapples with the horrific loss of the Hudgens family in Phoenix, the Arizona family has learned how Marla Hudgens’ impact stretched far beyond her legal career.
Police believe Jasen Hudgens shot himself in the head after he killed his wife Marla and their three children earlier this week.
Soccer is about scoring a goal and winning the game. But the field is also a place for something else. “Here we learned how to play football, but more importantly, we learned about friendship and trust,” said Ruby Dessaules.
At Madison Futbol Club, one coach has done everything to shape the young girls who look up to her: Marla Hudgens.
“Marla was like one of my second mothers, I would say,” Dessaules said. “Loyal. She’s brave,” Savannah Nordvold said. “She taught us to stand up for ourselves,” said Haley Farina. Dessaules, Nordvold and Farina would go on to play varsity soccer for Sunnyslope High School, but not before they trained by Marla Hudgens for years.
Confidence and bravery are two words that come to mind for these girls, things they learned from Marla. “She was a big part of my life. Actually, I just started coaching third and fourth graders in MFC this year to kind of follow in her footsteps and she was very, very proud to see us rise,” said Farina.
Of all the life lessons the sport has taught these young players, none could have prepared them for the news they were about to receive this week. Marla Hudgens and her three young children were found dead at their Phoenix home, reportedly by her husband Jasen, who was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“I was angry and hurt,” Dessaules said. “You can’t get past that. We’ll carry that with us forever,” Savannah said. “I’m really upset and I’m sad. I really loved Marla,” Dessaules said with tears in his eyes.
These girls saw firsthand what family meant to Marla as she struggled with infertility and viewed her soccer players as her own children. “When she told us she was pregnant with her first child, she was so excited to tell us. It was good news for us, we were all excited. Lucky for them was lucky for us,” said Nordvold.
Mourning the loss of a domestic violence role model is not a lesson these girls should learn. “She would always protect us. She was always by our side,” said Nordvold. But Marla has already given them the tools to weather this storm together. “She played a big role not only as a football coach but also as part of our family.”
These girls played for Marla for three years and say they never met or saw Jasen come to practice or games and believed he was quite distant. We are still awaiting the autopsy reports to determine the cause of death for Marla and her three children.
Madison Futbol Club President Shawn Grunewald shared this statement about Marla Hudgens:
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