It all started four years ago, when the Sahuaro girls golf team was left without a coach and its season was on the line.
Megan Hughes, an English teacher at the east-side high school, was asked by athletic director Sandy Novak if she was interested in coaching the team. Hughes agreed, and her daughter, Taylor, just happened to be one of her players.
Things have worked out better than anyone could have imagined.
The Hughes duo has helped Sahuaro to three straight top-four finishes at the state meet, including a state title in 2013. Taylor Hughes, a senior, is coming off a fourth-place finish a year ago, when the Cougars were the state runner-up.
But, for Taylor and Megan Hughes, their unforgettable journey comes to an end this week.
Now with younger daughter Halley on the team, the Hughes trio can go out with a bang at the two-day, 36-hole Division II state championships, beginning Monday at the Dell Urich Golf Course.
“I feel like it’s kind of not hitting me yet; we’re still practicing, and everyone is still here,” Taylor said last week. “It is weird, especially with my mom being the coach, because I golf the whole year, but she is only my coach for this little bit of it.
“I think I’ll feel it next year when it doesn’t happen. I think I will be sad.”
Taylor Hughes is a 5-foot-3-inch 17-year-old with blue eyes and long, dirty-blonde hair who is ranked No. 1 in Division II, one spot ahead of fellow Sahuaro senior Kathryn Ottman.
Halley Hughes, a 14-year-old freshman, couldn’t look more different than her older sister: She’s 5-5 with brown eyes. Her game, however, is close to the same, as she holds the No. 8 ranking heading into her first state meet.
Their mother, Megan, stands 5-4 and has curly brown hair and green eyes.
All three have golden-colored skin and big smiles.
“Of course it makes me proud, how could it not?,” Megan Hughes said. “Taylor worked really hard, so that didn’t happen by accident. Halley has worked hard too, but not quite as long.
“It’s nice that all of their hard work really pays off.”
The three mentioned that they don’t really look at the rankings. It’s not something they pay much attention to, even though Sahuaro is more than 14 points ahead of anyone else in the division.
“Your success is your attitude and how you play, it’s not your ranking,” Halley said. “We are competitive with each other and not other people.”
Since the state meet will be their last official outing all together, Megan, Taylor and Halley just hope to have a good time. But, of course, they think it would be fun to win.
“I want to go out and do my best,” Halley said. “We didn’t win last year and I want all the seniors this year to leave on a better note.”
Looking toward the future, both Taylor and Halley want to continue to play golf.
Taylor wants to play in college after graduating in May. Megan wants to continue coaching, and she’ll have Halley around for three more years.
“As long as there is still a golf team at Sahuaro and there are still girls who are interested, I think I would probably keep on coaching until I retire,” Megan said.
“It’s nice having them on the team, but the other girls are amazing. It’s been really fun working with them and their parents.”