Tussey basketball star doubles as musician

Tussey Mountain High School senior guard Eric Husick said he’s been around the game of basketball almost since the time he could walk.

His interest in music started about then, too.

Husick is pretty accomplished in both areas. He recently scored his 1,000th career point as a member of the Titans’ boys varsity basketball program, and had a singing audition for the nationally-televised show “America’s Got Talent” in Virginia.

Husick’s favorite is country music, which he began singing as a toddler around his family’s home in Saxton.

“My family has always been musical my whole life,” Husick said. “Soon after I was born, when I could barely talk, my family took videos of me singing country songs with a microphone in front of the television. I like it [music] all, but country music is definitely my favorite.”

Husick’s father, Chris, has a unique vantage point from which to assess Eric’s basketball and musical talents. Chris Husick – an assistant boys basketball coach under iconic head coach Dave Bailey for the past 19 years at Tussey Mountain – maintains that Eric has always been a musician at heart.

“In the car, I always complained [good-naturedly] that all it is is music and singing along,” Chris chuckled. “Eric and his mother, Bobbi Sue, and sister, Madison, have always all had a big passion for country music, and the three of them would always sing along together in the car.”

Chris has had a good chance to watch his son on the basketball court as well. Eric – a three-year basketball starter at Tussey who also started at quarterback two seasons for the football team – has averaged more than 20 points per game for the last two basketball seasons.

“He’s been on many youth teams, he plays extremely hard, and he’s well-rounded,” Chris said. “He defends, rebounds and scores for us. He’s a complete player.”

Bailey agrees.

“He’s a real nice offensive player, and he’s our best defender,” Bailey said. “We also ask him to rebound and lead our fastbreak. We’re a high-scoring team, and he’s a part of that.”

This past Dec. 16, Eric Husick auditioned at a Norfolk, Va. hotel for the TV show “America’s Got Talent.” Eric sang the country love song, “My Kind of Crazy,” which was written and sung by country musician Brantley Gilbert.

“I only got to sing one verse, which wasn’t a lot, but it was a cool experience, and I thought it went well,” Eric said. “It’s a song that I’ve known for a long time, and it’s a song that I was comfortable singing.”

Eric Husick was one of more than 8,000 singers auditioning that day in Virginia alone. “America’s Got Talent” holds auditions around the country for singers that he figures number about 10 times that.

“They only take a small number of people, and it may be until March until I find out if I was selected,” Eric, 18, said. “I feel good about how I did, but it’s all [about] what they’re looking for. It’s a tough process, but it was fun to try it out and see how it would go.”

Eric has come a long way as a musician. He has taken voice lessons, and he writes his own songs now. His cousin, Kenton Sitch, 31, of Saxton, was Eric’s musical mentor. Sitch, who plays the guitar in a local band, began instructing Eric in guitar several years ago. Recently, Eric did his musical gig during a break in one of the band’s performances at an area nightclub.

“He was very driven to learn,” Sitch said. “He’s become a pretty accomplished musician. He’s doing some small bookings and parties now just to get his work out there. He wanted to get to the point where he was writing his own music, and he has reached that point. He has come a long way.”

The same can be said of the 6-foot, 140-pound Husick’s basketball career. With his father being a coach, Eric was introduced to the game before he cut his baby teeth.

Reaching the 1,000 career-point plateau Jan. 4 in a game against Northern Bedford was a special thrill.

“With my dad being a coach, I’ve been around the program since I could walk,” Eric said. “I’ve seen so many people reach the 1,000-point total, and it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid.”

So is winning the winning District 5 basketball championship, which has eluded Eric and the Titans the past couple of years.

“My ninth and 10th grade years, we made it to the district finals, but took second,” he said. “Last year, we lost in the semifinals. I will hopefully get a district gold medal before I graduate this year.”

Eric, who plans to visit the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tenn., this spring to – “perhaps make a CD and make some connections down there,” he said – also has the dream of earning his livelihood in music.

“I know a guy here in town, Chris Woodward, who has been doing music professionally for a good many years, and he has kind of taken me under his wing,” Eric said. “He’s been around the business for awhile, and he’s helping me as much as possible whenever he can. I’d love to make a career out of [music]. It’s such a tough business, but if I could make that happen, that would be great.”