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Throwback Thursday: Catching up with Brett Hughes

We check in with former NCAA champ to find out what he’s been up to!

Rochester Rattlers v Ohio Machine Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Word on the street is that it’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another Throwback Thursday. We have caught up with Football’s Alvin Pearman and Soccer’s Alecko Eskandarian so far. This week, we chatted with former Virginia Lacrosse superstar Brett Hughes about what he’s been up to.

Hughes graduated in 2004 with his BA in Sociology after starting every game for the Hoos over his four years in Charlottesville. As a captain in 2003, Hughes anchored a Virginia defense that saw the Cavaliers win the ACC and NCAA titles. He earned All-America honors three times in his career.

Streaking the Lawn: So, what have you been up to since leaving school?

Brett Hughes: After leaving UVA I was drafted into the MLL and played professional lacrosse for almost 10 years. I started in New Jersey, then headed to Los Angeles, Denver, and finally ended where I grew up in Ohio.

During that time I also started an international 501c3 called Lacrosse the Nations, which uses the power of sport as a conduit to resources and opportunities for communities in need. I currently live in Los Angeles with my wife Kate, and most of my time is spent in the sports and entertainment field. I still mentor and coach a lot of young athletes in relation to on and off the field play/life, something I really developed a love for while I was on grounds.

STL: If you could have been an athlete in another sport at Virginia, which would you choose, and would you be a starter?

BH: Football. That was my favorite sport growing up in Ohio and was almost what I pursued instead of lacrosse. I am so happy my path ultimately took me to lacrosse, but I would have loved to play outside linebacker for UVA.

(I also would have absolutely loved to play soccer with my friends from that team, but me not being able to kick a ball with any sort of skill makes me say football instead)

STL: What is your favorite UVA sports memory, either as a fan or a player?

BH: It is hard not to say the NCAA Championship in 2003, but that almost seems too easy...and that is probably because it is. The memory is really less about the final whistle blowing and instead about how tight that team was. As the staff, the athletes and anyone around that team knew, it was special from the locker room to the field. I remember that weekend so vividly, particularly because we were beating the only two teams that beat us in the regular season. It was a great ending to a really special season.

STL: What are you doing during this self-isolating period to stay busy/entertained?

BH: In Los Angeles the weather has been good for the most part (as it tends to be), so I wake up around 5am and either walk or run to start my day. Our business is remote so there tend to be a lot of calls, and I have actually started to schedule time with friends to say hi, catch up, and learn something from them. Be it business or otherwise, it provides some structure and a chance to link up with not only old friends but also my family, which is largely in Ohio.

STL: Which coach or teacher had the greatest impact on you while at UVA?

BH: It would be tough not to say Dom Starsia. He had a great impact on me, and I really connected with him beyond the lines due to his interests and thoughtfulness. But I’d be remiss not to also mention Coach Marc Van Arsdale, as he seemed to get me in a way few coaches have and really seemed to understand the method to my madness (I promise there was one). Maybe it was because he was a similar competitor, but he got me and really understood what drove me day to day and how deep my passion for the art of competition is.

STL: Do you have any career advice to current students or recent alumni?

BH: Right now the best advice I can give recent alumni it is to stay inside and follow the “rules” so we can move past this and get back to building community, businesses and careers. It’s hard to really say anything else. But I would also mention that time in isolation can allow you to really set up some good habits to keep and take with you when this season is over. Be it scheduling time to read, catching up with family, meditating, or really spending undistracted time with those closest, there’s a lot of benefit to using this time to establish those rituals. It’s very easy when everything is moving at warp speed to take those moments and those habits for granted and leave them for another day... but right now it’s all that matters.

For pure career advice... Take this time to be creative. What is it that moves you? Find those common threads and explore and research the people and companies that practice those traits. If you allow the world to feed you career advice you’ll end up thinking like everyone else... Spend some time and find out what moves you and get involved... Volunteer if you must!

STL: What do you see that current UVA student-athletes have on Grounds that you wish you had? (facilities, resources, coach)

BH: The facilities are pretty amazing these days but what I think my time at UVA really missed was the video. The amount of coverage that UVA sports receive today is really fun to see. My parents did not get to see me play that much and rarely were able to be there live. I also would love to have more film/pictures with teammates, so the video coverage really stands out. To be clear, I am not necessarily referring to video as it relates to social media, as that is a double-edged sword. For me it’s more the likes of streaming and channels like the ACC network that would have been fun to have so more friends and family would get to see us play.

STL: What is your favorite Charlottesville restaurant?

BH: I’d have to say Continental Divide. The “Red Hot Blue” Nachos are amazing and the house hot sauce was the best in town.

But I do need to give a shout out to grabbing Bodo’s or Foods (of all Nations) and heading out to King Family Vineyard to see James, Carrington, and the crew.

Huge thanks to Brett for taking time to chat! Stay tuned next week for another alum catchup!