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Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Coach Ashley Hughes (Class of '08), now the Head Coach of the Women’s Lacrosse team at Allegheny College, never imaged that her 2020 season would end so abruptly. Like all Spring sports at Allegheny, the Lacrosse team, under Coach Hughes, had just started another season after much anticipation throughout the fall semester.

With only a handful of games completed before the season came to its abrupt COVID-accelerated end, Coach Hughes had to drastically adapt to what the rest of spring 2020 would bring.

With all her players suddenly headed for home, Coach Hughes suddenly had to maintain the Allegheny personal touch through the impersonal reach of technology. To continue to connect with her players so she could support their rapidly unfurling lives, screen time suddenly became vital. Bi-weekly check-ins became the new 'normal' as Coach Hughes thought back to her own days as an Allegheny student.

Supervising and supporting her athletes became very important to make sure that they leave Allegheny with a bright future ahead of them but Coach Hughes also had to take time to make sure that the incoming group of athletes would see what Allegheny could do for them. When the pandemic hit the world, it was a busy time for recruiting. Prospective student-athletes typically come for the overnight experience and/or campus tours. With the sudden lockdown, those tools for recruiting were no longer available.

“We’ve made adjustments to doing Facetime one-on-one tours with our top prospects as opposed to campus day visits,” Coach Hughes shared. Keeping positive for others has also meant taking care of herself so she can keep everyone's spirits up. It means focusing on getting outdoors and taking a moment to soak in what is good in the world, despite all the chaos and upheaval of the pandemic.

She urges all of the Allegheny community to keep their optimism alive and focus on the wonderful people they have in their lives. Coach Hughes has used this insight from connecting with some of her fellow Allegheny Alumni once a week over Zoom. She considers these as the bright spots that help her maintain her sanity. Reconnecting with some of her close friends from her days at Allegheny makes her feel more centered and comforted. With so much uncertainty during this time, it is important to take time for yourself but also to reach out to those who can lift you up, and Coach Hughes has found a way to do both.

~~Interview by John Barron Sluga (Class of '23; Allegheny Men's Soccer Team)

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