BC High alumnus and current Kansas State Head Baseball Coach, Peter Hughes’86, took a moment to share his thoughts on various topics, including how he and his team dealt with the news of their season getting cancelled; how a BC High education has helped him through difficult times; and he also offers some advice to current BC High student-athletes.
Coach Hughes is a member of the BC High Athletic Hall of Fame in two sports, Baseball and Football. He was Head Baseball Coach at Trinity (TX), Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma, before arriving at Kansas State.
Q#1: As the Kansas State Head Baseball Coach, your season was under way this spring until the spread of COVID-19 shut down all NCAA spring sports. Did you have time to meet with your team, and what did you tell your players once you received the news?
PH: “I received word of the NCAA’s decision during our practice on March 12. At the time there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the decision to cancel the National Championships. Would we be able to continue the season at some point? Would the season be bumped to the Fall? Can we continue to practice as a team? After our practice I broke the news to our team. I told them that we were about to enter a world of unknowns. And the only way to prepare themselves for this is to put themselves in positive place mentally. Control only what they can control and think the best. I gave them weekend off and told them to spend the time together as teammates. “
Q#2:Tell us the impact on the seniors, especially where most of them will not be playing organized baseball again? How did you help them cope through this news?
PH: “Originally, we thought that our senior’s careers were over. I told them that their careers were not defined by their “senior year”. Their legacy had already been defined by the commitment and the lifetime preparation that they represented. They had already won and will always be winners in life because of these acquired traits they found through our sport. We are all extremely grateful that the NCAA has since granted them an extra year of eligibility.”
Q#3: Do you think with all sports, professional through youth, coming to a halt, student-athletes across the country are realizing the importance of their education?
PH: “I think this a harsh way to remind us all that at some point in every athlete’s life there is going to be “the end”. Our athletic skillset does not last forever. Our educational skillset does. Its one’s own choice on how proficient we become in this skillset. This will determine who we are and how we are going to do in our real life. It is times like this when sports are taken away from us that we realize it is not about the games won, the goals or points scored ,or how fast we ran a race.”
Q#4: What is your advice to all of the BC High spring athletes?
PH: “Honestly, It’s time to figure out a way to stay on point. No excuses! Don’t let this take away a BC High student-athlete’s greatest assets – commitment and work ethic. It is healthy to continue to set daily goals. Keep them simple and attainable. Personally, I am going to do something each day (whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours) to improve myself spiritually, physically and professionally. I check those 3 boxes every day and it keeps me focused and positive. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. What are your 3 boxes???”
Q#5: How has this impacted your life with your family?
PH: “My wife and I have 5 children and in recent years we are very seldom all together. With that being said, the greatest impact of all us being under the same roof again can be seen in the spike of our weekly grocery expenditures and the lack of parking spots in our driveway!! Seriously, there are very few upsides involving a pandemic situation. However, we as a family are always grateful for our health and when we can all be together. Thankfully, we do truly enjoy each other’s company. There is nothing better than family in good times and in bad.”
Q#6: As an alumnus of the school, and member of the BC High Athletic Hall of Fame for 2 sports (Baseball & Football), what characteristics did you learn from BC High that has remained with you during your storied coaching career, as well as with how you deal with the trying times of today?
PH: “Being a student-athlete at BC High had the most influence in building my foundation for my personal and professional life. Your foundation defines who you are, which is all we have during hard times. BC High taught me to have a tremendous sense of pride in my preparation. You had to be diligent and thorough in your preparation academically. You had to be relentless, consistent, and disciplined in your preparation athletically. If you were not any of these things and were sloppy in your preparation you got exposed in both arenas. Same is true with my professional life. BC High is not a “fake it till you make it” institution – academically or athletically. There are no shortcuts on 150 Morrissey Boulevard.”
“Also, BC High was really hard. It was hard leaving my house in Brockton at 6am and jumping on an hour and a half bus ride through the Big Dig era. It was hard in the classroom. It was hard going to practice. It was hard busing back, getting home at 8pm, 3 hours of homework, and waking up to do it all over again. A grind. A nonstop grind …. that I grew to love. The satisfaction of coming out on the other side of the grind battling adversity has always empowered me. BC High gave me this edge that I have carried it with me in my personal life and my career. Preparation and hard work ALWAYS wins, and I got that at BC High. The school and the people in the community built me up, not only to deal with adversity, but to embrace adversity and embrace the grind. GO EAGLES!”