A year ago, Sahuaro had a coach in place for its girls golf team, but things changed at the last minute.
There was still a team — just no coach.
Megan Hughes, an English teacher at Sahuaro for the past 20 years, stepped up even though her coaching experience was limited to tennis, speech and debate.
She had a reason: Her daughter, Taylor, played on the girls squad. When it became clear that the Cougars couldn’t play without a coach, Hughes took over.
Had she not taken the position, the Cougars would have been left without a program.
“I wouldn’t want my mom as the coach,” said junior Desiree Hong, who finished third in last year’s Division II state championships. “But Taylor’s mom just did it because we didn’t really have anyone. She just stepped up.”
While it worked out in the long run and the Cougars were the second best Southern Arizona finisher in the state finals at fourth place, Hughes’ decision was no knee-jerk reaction.
In fact, it had happened before. Megan Hughes is the only freshman honors English teacher at Sahuaro, meaning Taylor would have to be in her class if she wanted to pursue the honors course.
“I said, ‘You’re going to be in my class, you’re going to be in my house; is this going to be too much with me coaching golf, too?,’” Megan said.
Taylor, who placed 17th at state last fall, didn’t mind at all.
“I think it was pretty cool of my mom to drop everything to be the coach because she knew we wanted to have a team,” Taylor said. “So if she’s going to do all that and put in this extra work, then I can deal with whatever happens to come attached with her being the coach.”
Being a novice to golf, Megan focuses more on the little things in coaching such as staying hydrated, stretching, eating well and keeping her players motivated.
Assistant Stan Hacker helps with swings and give tips on certain Tucson courses.
“It’s not like I take her more seriously in English, but she’s definitely able to give more proactive tips on things because she knows what exactly is right,” Taylor said. “With golf it is kind of like she’s the motivator, but you pretty much have to come up with it yourself.”
Having the mother-daughter tandem hasn’t been a problem at all. In fact, sometimes on the golf course it’s hard to see the relationship they have.
“It’s no different: It’s just like a coach-and-player relationship,” said Hong, who has golfed with Taylor for the past eight years.
The biggest difference for Megan when coaching her team is how she reacts when her daughter is having a bad day on the golf course compared to the other girls on the team.
“She doesn’t want me to try to say anything encouraging; I just have to totally ignore her,” Megan said. “If it were another player on my team I’d probably try to say something like ‘Try to forget those first couple holes,’ but with her I just kind of say, ‘OK.’ ”