February 14, 2014 at 4:10 AM
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - High school senior Shannon Hughes will be heading to Rider University this fall, where she will be playing field hockey for one of the top-ranked programs in the state.
Rider had a winning 13-7 season last year under head coach Lori Hussong. Hughes is looking forward to playing for Hussong, saying she chose the school, in part, due to the quality of the coaching.
The 18-year-old forward earned the Star Ledger player-of-the-year award in 2012 as a junior and then earned the same designation a year later as a senior. She also tied the SPHS record for most points in a season.
Hughes started playing field hockey in second grade as part of a junior hockey program and then went on to play for Quick Sticks, a club team.
When she arrived in high school she quickly signed up for the Tigers squad, which is coached by her mom Cheryl. When asked about being coached by her mom, Hughes said she enjoyed the experience. "She was good at being a coach while at school and a mom while at home," the player said. "She pushed me to be the best I could be."
Hughes and her family visited Rider University last summer and in the fall. While she liked the coaching staff, she also liked the school and the players she'll be joining. "The girls on the team seemed really nice," she said when explaining her choice.
SPHS Principal Dr. James Pedersen said Hughes was not only a great athlete, but also a great student. He also said he knows Hughes will continue to make her hometown proud: "I know she'll continue to let the world know how good South Plainfield is."
An addiction to sports runs in the Hughes family. In addition to having a mom who coaches field hockey, she has a dad who coaches basketball and serves as the recreation director for the Borough of South Plainfield. And while she played field hockey all four years, that didn't stop her from also playing softball and basketball at the same time, something she said she was proud to do.
While at Rider Hughes plans to major in elementary education.