PORT ANGELES — In only his third year as the men’s head coach at Peninsula College, Jake Hughes has reached the pinnacle of the Northwest Athletic Conference in more ways than one.
A week after leading his Pirates to the NWAC championship, Hughes was also named the NWAC coach of the year in a vote of coaches from around the league.
Hughes, who was a player on the 2010 NWAC-champion Pirates’ squad, led Peninsula to an 18-1-2 record this season and a North Division title in addition to the NWAC title. He has a 41-10-8 record overall.
“It’s incredible. He has to be one of the youngest coaches [29 years old] to ever win that award,” said Rick Ross, Associate Dean of Athletics and Student Programs. “He was prepared the first year on the job.
“We’re thrilled he was recognized,” Ross said.
Speaking to Hughes’ youth, Ross said it can be difficult for young coaches to recruit, but that Hughes has been strong in this area as well as the coaching on the field.
“He has a good rapport with the players and the families. He’s been terrific,” he said.
Hughes doesn’t see it as an individual award, but an award for the program.
“Though it’s an individual award, I think it’s an award that goes to the whole team and program. It’s really cool. It’s really a recognition of a successful program and team,” Hughes said.
Though it took him just three years to win an NWAC title, Hughes, who was an assistant under former coach Cale Rodriguez said he inherited a program with high expectations with championships in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
“There’s been a large group of people working together toward a goal,” he said.
Hughes credits assistant coach Juan Carlos Cisneros for being a big part of the Pirates’ championship this year, as well as assistant Nick Camporini’s work with the players in the classroom.
Hughes also pointed out that his 2017 and 2018 squads were very good (his team in 2017 lost just three matches), but in soccer there is a very thin margin between teams that win the championships and those that don’t. This year, the Pirates prevailed in those thin margins.