The temptation to refer to East Grand Rapids senior J. Ludlow as a centered young man is just too strong to resist. He plays the center position for the Pioneer hockey team, he is the middle child of John and Barbara Ludlow, and a conversation with him indicates someone with a well balanced approach to life.
Hockey coach Joe Day is a fan of Ludlow for all the right reasons. Talk with his coach about him and you will hear descriptive terms like “great hockey IQ”, “a natural”, “strong skater”, “excellent all rounder”, and “relentless”. Day considers him a quiet leader on the team, he related that Ludlow tends to lead by example but can be assertive and vocal when he needs to be.
Day and Ludlow are in agreement that his strong suit on the ice is defense. Day mentioned that his determination on the ice has allowed J. to score in some situations where others might have given up. Ludlow will stay with the puck and keep battling when others might not.
“He shoots when he should shoot and passes when he should pass,” said Day. “He is a quality kid – any coach would enjoy coaching him.”
Ludlow remembers getting into hockey sometime around the third grade. He and his older brother Will, a junior at Michigan, played roller hockey with neighbors and made the transition to the ice fairly easily. J. confessed that he really enjoys “everything about hockey”. He appreciates the fact that it requires a team effort to succeed. Ludlow said one of the things he will miss the most next year is the close knit ties of the Pioneer team.
“It is a joy to be there every day and to be playing hockey,” Ludlow related.
Making friends with his classmates on and off the ice is an integral part of life for J. Ludlow. He related that his favorite class this semester is AP Biology and one of the main reasons is because the extra work required by the class, especially the lab work, has resulted in him feeling like everyone in the class is a friend. One prime indicator that his classmates consider him a friend can be found in the fact that he has been elected Vice President of the Student Council for the last five years in a row.
The pride he takes in being a part of the student government was obvious when he talked about some of their accomplishments. He was very happy with the results of having national motivational speak Chuck Wall, the “Random Acts of Kindness” guy, address the entire school to kick off Kindness Week recently.
Barbara Ludlow has nothing against her children’s involvement in sports, but she did insist very early on that they balance athletics with music. J. played the trumpet for many years, but opted to sing in the choir when he reached High School. This year he is a part of the Madrigals – a sixteen member group that requires an audition to join. Ludlow is a tenor with the Madrigals and it is noteworthy that the group sings a cappella, which means they sing with no accompaniment from any instruments. The Madrigals are very popular and sing up to 40 engagements outside the school around the holidays. The group is paid in many cases and the money they earn goes to the Music department at East.
Ludlow is a two year volunteer member of the S.T.E.P program. The acronym means Students Together Educating People and members of STEP visit elementary schools to work with fifth graders on social issues. They get the message across about important life lessons through a combination of skits and discussions with their younger charges. Subjects include learning how to stand up for one’s self and how to deal with bullies.
J. Ludlow was very good at presenting the many facets of his high school life, but we were glad to interview his mom in order to find out even more. One of the things that pleases the Ludlows most about J. is his modesty and humility. This trait became evident when we found out a few things J. left out of the conversation.
He never mentioned the fact that the results of the Michigan Math Prize Competition have placed him in the top 1 percentile of all the kids in the state for the last two years in a row. J. told us his GPA was an “unadjusted 3.7” but mom provided clarification that when his honors and AP classes are factored in then the GPA is 4.278. She also alerted us to the fact that J. was voted Most Spirited by the seniors and he had the cowbell used to start the cheers at football games passed on to him by a graduating senior.
Don’t look too closely at Ludlow for a halo of absolute perfection though. We have it on good authority that he enjoys his status as a class clown and his humorous antics in the classroom have been known to push the limits with a certain Latin teacher.
We would like to close with a quote from his mom that sums up why we are paying tribute to J. Ludlow here.
“He is fair and kind. J. never expects payment of any kind when he helps someone,” Barbara said. “When he is playing hockey he is not looking to score, he is looking to make the team better.”