Hughes strives for success on the court

Striving to be the best as an athlete is a guarantee while playing on the Washburn Universitys Lady Blues volleyball team—junior outside hitter, Hillary Hughes promises that. Hughes’s passion for her team and her academics can only be described as tough love.

Hughes first started playing volleyball in the fifth grade while attending grade school in Wisconsin.

“I played for as much time as I could get,” said Hughes. “I played throughout high school and even on a traveling club team at the YMCA.”

Then, during the fall of her senior year at Wisconsin Heights High School, Washburn University’s head volleyball coach, Chris Herron, found her.

“I’m not sure how, but Coach Herron just showed up in Wisconsin one day,” said Hughes.

WU’s competitive volleyball team, campus and academic offerings drew Hughes in a week later. 

“Hillary is an outstanding athlete,” said Herron.

From the beginning, Herron knew she was driven to be successful.

Herron said Hughes can sometimes be her own worst enemy.

“It took us awhile for her to reach the point she’s at now,” said Herron, “She doesn’t let a bad play affect her as it did upon her first arrival.”

As a junior and starting outside hitter, Hughes feels the need to practice more and more often.

“I find myself to be competitive as a player,” said Hughes. “I know that I’m not perfect and the desire to fix my errors compels me as an athlete.”

Despite her academic and athletic success from the past three years, the one thing that Hughes finds extremely challenging while attending Washburn University is the fact that she’s eight hours away from her hometown.

“It’s really been hard being so far away from home,” said Hughes. “My friends and family will always come to watch me, but they have to leave right afterwards.”

Hughes’ determination as a soon to be senior athlete helps her pull through though.

“I want to be as great of a leader as this year’s current senior girls are,” said Hughes. 

Senior outside hitter Courtney Wallman has been a great influence to Hughes during the three years they’ve had together as teammates at Washburn University.

“Courtney has been a great person to look up to,” said Hughes. “I strive to be as good as she is in both academics and volleyball.”

Both volleyball players are currently studying to become physical therapy assistants. Hughes hopes to attend physical therapy assistant school after graduation.