BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) — From Tokyo to Ohio, the U.S. Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach Dan Hughes arrived back home Monday. He said hearing the National Anthem and knowing he’s representing the land of the free and home of the brave is a moment he will never forget.
“How unique this moment is to represent your country, all the people that make up this great land,” said Hughes.
Family, friends and neighbors cheered for Coach Hughes to bring home the gold. In total, Hughes has coached basketball since 1978 and has coached in the WNBA for two decades collecting several titles and wins under his belt. However, he says his coaching passion started on the high school courts.
“I was influenced by a high school basketball team in 1962 when I was seven-years old and I wanted to be a coach,” said Hughes. “Oddly enough, I wanted to be a player but I looked and I knew I wanted to be a coach.”
One of Coach Hughes’ favorite moments of the Tokyo Olympics was when Jewell Lloyd, who previously played for him on Seattle Storm, placed her gold medal around his neck.
“It was one of the moments we had on Sunday but it’s probably going to live for a while because of the experience that you share,” said Hughes. “Just the fact that we outscored Japan will give me a whole slew of memories for a lot of years to come.”
Hughes is a monumental leader in the WNBA, between coaching women’s basketball for over 20 years and mentoring players who became coaches themselves, he said his life is a humbling experience.
“Those of us who understand sports, we know it’s about the players, it’s not about the coaches,” said Hughes. “I’ve had the best seat to watch some of the greatest athletes and I feel just so thankful that I’ve been a part of their life.”
Hughes was a member of the U.S. Olympic selection committee for years before being named an assistant for the Tokyo Games. He stepped away from coaching in 2016 and has coached the second-most games in WNBA league history (598) and is tied for fourth in victories with 286.
Hughes says he’s retired from being head coach but mentoring, teaching and even being an assistant is definitely in his future.