Watching from the dugout as a young boy, freshman outfielder Dom Hughes began to find a passion for the sport that his father, Kansas State head baseball coach Pete Hughes, had made a career out of.
“Growing up in the dugouts my whole life and always being around him and baseball, being around all the great players he’s coached made me a better player learning from him,” Dom said.
With his two brothers already playing collegiate baseball, Dom was next in line to choose his path. Making his commitment as a junior in high school, Dom decided to follow his father and chose K-State.
After Pete Hughes’ appointment as K-State’s 21st head baseball coach in June 2018, the Hughes family found that the Manhattan community was special.
“I knew the baseball program needed to be revitalized a little bit,” Pete said. “What I didn’t know is the players already in the program were phenomenal kids, people and student athletes who were eager to follow [the coaching staff’s] lead.”
Even though the two share a father/son bond, Pete made it clear that there is no special treatment for his son in the dugout.
“Dom has been in my dugout since he was five years old,” Pete said. “He knows the protocol, the climate, the atmosphere, he knows how I coach, how I discipline. If I treated him any differently, he would know, and it just wouldn’t work.”
That climate in the dugout involves many things, such as the need for hard work, but there is one thing that Pete said he simply will not believe in while he is the head man for the Wildcats: luck.
“Whenever anyone says ‘Good luck’ to me for a game, I say there is no such thing as luck,” Pete said. “It’s all about hard work and preparation.”
Pete’s mentality has passed down to his son. However, there is one ritual Dom makes sure to do before every game.
“Usually I just flex my biceps in front of my dad to show him my muscles are bigger than his,” Dom said.
Unfortunately for the father/son pair, their first collegiate season together was cut short. After only playing 17 games the rest of the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19, with the Wildcats finishing the season with a 10-7 mark.
“Although it was disappointing to only play 17 games, the future looks really bright, and the excitement for next year is even more so because of what we didn’t get to finish this year,” Pete said.
Appearing in eight games in 2020, Dom ended his first season with the Wildcats batting .273 percent and drove in three runs, two of those runs being in the season finale against South Dakota State on March 11.
Though COVID-19 cut the season short, that did not stop Dom from enjoying his first season at the collegiate level with his father.
“This past season was an unbelievable experience,” Dom said. “This is the most special team I’ve played for, and I know it’s the most talented I’ve ever played for. We’re looking forward to next year because I know we’ve got even more strength coming back next year.”