By Mike Phillips
New Smith-Cotton boys basketball coach Ray Hughes rolled his sleeves and went right to work on his new job with gusto Monday.
“I’m going to several meetings Monday,” said Hughes when reached by phone Saturday afternoon. “I’m going to meet with the students and coaches at the Middle School, then I will meet with the current basketball staff at the high school and then I will talk with the high school administrators.”
The 19-year coaching veteran from Gary, Ind., Hughes doesn’t look at his new job like it’s a no-win situation.
S-C has had just one winning season in the last 18 years and went 29-47 in three years under former head coach Kevin Schnicker.
“I look at Smith-Cotton as an opportunity,” said Hughes. “I look at it as a chance to come in there and develop players, which is something I love to do.”
Hughes plans to start a summer-league program for Sedalia players, both young and veterans to begin developing the skills needed to pit a competitive team on the court at the high school. He also plans to be heavily involved in the Middle School basketball programs as well as youth basketball programs in Sedalia.
Hughes, 40, has one major goal in mind as he takes over a program that has struggled in recent years.
“A big thing I want to get done is to get the kids excited about being part of a winning program,” said Hughes.”And I want to get the community excited about coming to watch and support this team and get them involved.”
S-C has had problems getting players out for the team in the last several years.
“The key is getting the right kids out, those kids who want to learn the game and the skills it takes to be competitive. That start down at the lower levels and the youth leagues.”
The Missouri State High School Activities Association is in charge of assigning teams to district tournaments. S-C will likely stay in the same district with schools like Rock Bridge, Hickman Jefferson City and Washington. The Tigers have not been competitive in that district for a long time.
“I really believe that if we can get the right guys out who are willing to work to relearn their game and the skills it takes to be competitive, I think the wins and losses and everything else will takes care of itself.
“We are going to be expected to compete for and win district championships and go to the state playoffs,” said Hughes. “I think we can do that once the kids buy into what I want them to do and they get excited about the game of basketball.”
Hughes graduated from high school in Gary Ind., in 1989 received a degree in education from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, served as an assistant coach with the Lincoln women’s basketball team for four years, was an assistant coach with the Lincoln men’s team for one year, then was an assistant boys coach at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City and has served as an assistant boys coach with the Jefferson City Jays for the past 12 years.
Hughes teaches health and PE at Simonson 9th Grade Center in Jefferson City, He will handle the In-School Suspension Program in Sedalia. He plans to move to Sedalia but is not sure when that move will take place. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.