McChesney a role model for Prince Rupert kids

Young basketball fan Hudson Veldman gets a visit from Justin McChesney.

Justin McChesney surprised six-year-old Hudson Veldman at his house last week with some gifts and a chance to talk basketball.

Hudson Veldman has found a role model for life in former CHSS star Justin McChesney, thanks to a personal visit from him last week.

The six-year-old Prince Rupert native has been a big fan of McChesney throughout his high school career, but things rose to another level when McChesney made his University of British Columbia (UBC) debut on Aug. 11.

In an interview with his mother, Signi Solmundson, she explains that it was just by chance they were in the Vancouver area that night. The family was on vacation when McChesney’s sister, Sarah, let Solmundson know that he would be playing in his first game for the Thunderbirds.

“Hudson said we have to go watch so we did and for him, to walk into the UBC facility was like he hit the big time,” Solmundson said.

Although they tried to meet up with McChesney after the game, he was whisked away for media interviews. Instead, Hudson chatted with the Charlotte 49ers players and got some autographs from them.

“We didn’t get the chance to talk to Justin after the game but just watching it was a summer highlight for Hudson,” his mother said.

Lucky for him, that wasn’t the end of the story.

Solmundson sent some photos to Sarah to say they were enjoying the game and didn’t think any more of it. But a few days later, McChesney surprised Hudson by showing up at his house for a visit. The boys talked a bit, although Hudson’s mom says he was starstruck, because he was uncharacteristically quiet.

“He’s not a kid that suffers from loss of words very often so I found it kind of amusing… But when Justin left, he was talking a mile a minute.”

McChesney also gave Hudson a UBC Thunderbirds scarf and an autographed photo of him in a Thunderbirds uniform. The whole thing left Solmundson impressed with McChesney, not just as an athlete but as a role model for her son.

“Honestly, we all hope our kids get exposure to great teachers, coaches and friends. The Summer Olympics is giving Canadian kids all kinds of new, strong sport role models to inspire them in terms of big dreams, hard work and believing in yourself. But we shouldn’t forget that hometown heroes like Justin, who is sharing his exciting path so well with kids in this community, can be an even more powerful influence on them.”

The interaction gave Solmundson and Hudson a chance to talk about those life lessons you’re always trying to reinforce with your kid, she said.

“(McChesney’s) actions this past week made my son’s summer. As a community member and a parent, I’m just super thankful that he’s a great model and he’s somebody that our kids can look up to.”