Ex-WNBA coach Hughes delivers strong message at Union Local

It doesn’t take much more than a quick glance at Dan Hughes resume, which includes two WNBA championships as a head coach and a gold medal as an assistant coach in Tokyo, to realize he knows basketball.

When you consider the 1974 Fort Frye High School graduate has coached basically at all levels, he clearly has more knowledge to share than just what kind of play to run against a zone defense.

He shared some of that during a 60-minute speech Friday afternoon at Union Local High School where he spoke to members of the boys and girls basketball teams, coaches and teachers.

There is so much more to coaching and sports than the final score. Hughes did an excellent job of conveying that during his talk, which could have been spoken in front of parents as well as the coaches and athletes.

Things like being a good teammate, embracing the grind and showing up each day with the right attitude to help the team were points that not only apply to basketball, but to all walks of life in the real world.

There are plenty of times when the team with the most talent or even a lot of talent fails to win on the big stage. Hughes pointed to relationships within the team being a big ingredient to long-term team success.

“Within the team, you have to build relationships,” Hughes said. “There will come a time in your lives when you won’t remember the scores of the games in which you play, but you will remember the relationships with the students and coaches. Those are the relationships that sustain. It’s important that teams sustain those relationships and that starts with trust.”

Obviously, that’s a life lesson. Relationships — whether personal or professional — always boil down to trust. In sports, teammates have to trust each other and that doesn’t mean trusting they’ll make a foul shot late in the fourth quarter or not turn the ball over when holding for the last shot.

While those are certainly factors in winning and losing, in the bigger picture, the trust between teammates that they’ll be responsible, accountable and are much more important. Let’s be honest, if one of those ingredients isn’t met, the opportunity to make the foul shot or hold the ball for the last shot doesn’t even come to fruition.

Part of the trust is what Hughes referred to as “embracing the grind,” too.

Again, while an important part of sports, it’s a life-long trait and skill that people need to continually improve upon.

“We have to have the ability to put one foot in front of the other and keep going,” Hughes said “When I was building a roster for my teams, I looked at how persistent the player was. If I had the choice, I’d take a persistent player who wasn’t as talented because of the culture and toughness they brought. Action speaks louder than words.”

Along with persistence, Hughes also looked for players who were good teammates. Again, that has nothing to do with stats, ability to defend or any other trait of a ‘good’ player.

“We wanted people on our team that were good people and wanted to be good teammates,” Hughes explained. “It makes our job, as coaches, so much easier. We want people who give energy and make things work. We can’t have people taking energy from the team.”

Hughes’ chief message to the players — especially the seniors — was simple, but very poignant.

“Treasure the time with your teams,” Hughes said. “You’re tied together in a way that is hard to describe and there will come a time, down the road in life, that comes back to a relationship from a team. To me, that’s the reason for sports. They’re not about points, wins or championships. Sports are more about how they make your life better.”



It started last week and with each week until basically the middle of February, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference will crown additional winter sports champions.

With swimming and the individual wrestling tournament completed, this weekend shifts focus to bowling. The 4A and 5A bowlers will compete at St. Clair Lanes, while the 1A-3A schools will make the trip to Parkersburg to compete at Pike Street Lanes. The larger schools will begin at 8 a.m., while the smaller schools will begin at 10 a.m.

The focus shifts back to wrestling with the Bill Hinegardner Dual Meet Championships this coming week. Brooke and John Marshall will host the events on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

At Brooke, the 4A and 1A/2A schools will compete. In 4A, St. Clairsville will take on Oak Glen, while Indian Creek and Edison will meet in the other semifinal. The winners will clash for the trophy.

In the smaller division, only Shadyside and Bridgeport are eligible and/or participating, so they’ll meet in the final.

At John Marshall, 3A and 5A will take part. Linsly and Magnolia will meet along with Barnesville and Martins Ferry in 3A, while Park meets Brooke and Steubenville takes on the Monarchs in the 5A semifinals.

Obviously, girls basketball kicks off the week with semifinal games on Monday and title games on Saturday at Harrison Central. The boys brackets will be finalized Wednesday morning.


Everyone loves a good prediction, so let’s make predictions for the OVAC Girls Basketball Tournament championships:

1A — Cameron over Frontier

2A — River over Wheeling Central

3A — Union Local over Fort Frye

4A — Indian Creek over Harrison Central

5A — Wheeling Park over Morgantown


UNION LOCAL grad Hannah Kemp, who is a cross country and track runner at West Liberty, has been named an Academic All-American by the US Track and Cross Country Coaches.

THE OVAC has announced that long-time, multi-sport official Wayne Ogilbee has been hired as the conference’s new volleyball commissioner. Ogilbee takes over for Dr. Chelsey Fletcher, who stepped down after last season. Ogilbee has been a volleyball official for several years. He’s also a basketball official and a softball umpire.

THE BRACKETS for the Ohio girls sectional and district tournaments will be set Sunday afternoon at 2.

MORGANTOWN’S IRENE Riggs, who is headed to run track and cross country at Stanford University, was named the Gatorade National CC Runner of the Year. She’s the first OVAC athlete to ever earn such a distinction.

AFTER GOING four for four with my NFL predictions last week, I clearly should have put some money down. I will take both road teams to win this weekend and advance to the Super Bowl. Look for San Francisco and Cincinnati to represent the NFC and AFC, respectively.


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