Hughes excited to lead girls volleyball team
Since graduating from Ohio State in 2010, Eric Hughes had been looking forward to securing his first head coaching position in high school volleyball.
He expects to get that opportunity at Westland, where he has been selected to take over the girls volleyball program pending school board approval.
Hughes, 27, had been an assistant under Ellen Schmidt, who coached the Cougars for one season.
Last fall, Westland finished 3-19 overall and 0-14 in the OCC-Central Division. The Cougars lost to Westerville Central 25-11, 25-13, 25-8 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"Ellen approached me to do a co-coaching deal (last year)," Hughes said. "Even though I was technically a (junior varsity) coach, we coached both the j.v. and varsity together. I didn't really want to be a j.v. coach; I wanted to have my own program somewhere. She said I could coach with her and I said that would be OK, that would be fun, too. She and I worked really well together."
Hughes graduated from Reynoldsburg in 2003 and played volleyball at Wright State for one season before transferring to Ohio State, where he played three years of club volleyball.
Hughes said Schmidt, a seventh-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Jonathan Alder, is expected to remain associated with the Westland Volleyball Club.
Hughes and Schmidt informed the team of the coaching change June 7.
"We explained to them the situation," Hughes said. "There was that moment of shock, but then at that same time there was also that moment of understanding. ... They understood and they're also excited for a new year, and because we did coach the whole team together it wasn't necessarily taken horribly."
Hughes, who is a systems analyst at Cardinal Health, joined the high school program last season. He joined the Westland Volleyball Club in 2010, coaching the U17 girls team and serving as the club's assistant director.
He was a tennis professional at the New Albany Country Club and New Albany Tennis Center from 2003-10.
Westland again will play host to a six-team summer league beginning Tuesday, June 19.
The Cougars open next season Aug. 28 at home against Marysville. They will compete in a realigned OCC-Central Division with Central Crossing, Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Davidson, Marysville, Olentangy Liberty, Thomas Worthington and Upper Arlington.
Senior middle hitter Bianca Anderson is expected to be the top returnee. She was honorable mention all-league last season.
Other key players expected to return are seniors Stephanie Mitchell (outside hitter), Hannah Overturf (libero) and Selena Sanchez (defensive specialist) and juniors Erika Moore (setter) and Alison Sammons (outside hitter).
"We should have a very strong team this year," Hughes said. "We definitely have a much older team than in the past. We only graduated three seniors (Malaney Nicholson, Brittany Starner and Danielle White) ... so in terms of varsity we have a lot experience coming back."