WATERVILLE — Nancy Hughes and her eldest of three daughters, Meghan, direct practice with a group of players at one end of Thomas College’s Bernatchez Field as rain showers pass in and out Thursday afternoon.

Included in that group is Nancy’s youngest daughter, Allison, a sophomore at Maine Central Institute. At the other end of the field Greg Hughes, Nancy’s husband and the girls’ father, works with the goalkeepers. Only missing is the family’s middle daughter, Katie, a former field hockey, basketball and track standout at MCI who is in her freshman year at Bates College. There, she is a thrower on the women’s track and field team.

It is just another fall day in the life of the Hughes family.

The MCI field hockey team is in uncharted territory this fall as Saturday at 4 p.m. the Huskies will play Oak Hill High School for the Class C state championship at the University of Maine. It is the first time either school has played for the title and for the Hughes family in particular, it has been quite an experience.

“Every day is a fun time together but I’ve never cried during sports like that or anything. After we won I just started bawling,” Allison said. “All the work that’s paid off felt so good and our family has done so much to contribute to the success that we’ve had. It just feels so good to be a part of that.”

Each member of the Hughes family has played a different part in helping the Huskies this season.

Nancy Hughes, MCI’s head coach, is in her third stint coaching the Huskies and has been with the team since 2008, when Meghan was a sophomore. An English teacher at MCI, Nancy has also worked to grow the sport at the youth levels through her work with the Pittsfield Recreation Department.

“Two to three days a week in the evening she’s coaching the rec after she’s doing high school, and she’s getting help from (Allison), getting help from (Meghan),” said Greg Hughes, who also helps out from time to time as well. “It has been a family affair and sometimes some late nights.”

Meghan Hughes, an English teacher at Erskine Academy, is in her first year as an assistant coach with the team. In the spring she graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington after a four-year career playing field hockey for the Beavers.

“It’s been great this season. Amanda Riendeau, our other assistant coach, has been great this season too and we all just feed off each other,” Nancy said. “Meghan has really brought some technical knowledge to the game since she’s a recent college player.”

As for Greg Hughes — a health teacher at Sebasticook and Somerset Valley Middle Schools — he is a former football coach that learned the game of field hockey when an opportunity to spend more time with his family and a need for a goalie coach arose.

“When Allison was going into high school Greg knew he wanted to get more involved,” Nancy said. “We recognized that we needed to shore up our goalie instruction. He dedicated himself to looking at everything he could find online and emailing people and going to summer camps.”

If he has any regrets, Greg said, is that he did not do it sooner.

“I feel bad because I coached football through Megan’s probably junior year so I missed some of her games and that’s one of the things I kick myself about,” Greg Hughes said. “I really enjoy it so much now that I really wish I had been a part of watching her play. I got to a lot of her games but there were some where it was like, ‘oh, that’s too far,’ so I wouldn’t go. I really regret some of that.”

Meghan Hughes noted, however, that he more than made up for it with some long trips to college games.

At the same token, there have been some instances where a little time apart is not the worst thing.

“It gets really frustrating sometimes because I’m around them 24/7 at home, and I go to school and I’m around my mom and then I go to practice and I’m around all of them,” Allison Hughes said. “It gets frustrating but it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

The MCI field hockey family extends beyond just the Hughes. On the team they have a number of sets of sisters and cousins as well, and collectively MCI is hoping it comes through one last time this fall — together.

“We have a lot of girls with really good game knowledge at this point. They’ve put a lot of hours in,” Nancy Hughes said. “It’s just a culmination of a lot of hours by everybody and the parents. We just talked (Thursday) about how great the parents of our kids are so it is like a family feel.

“Everybody is on board, working together.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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