Best known as a member of the Connecticut Whale, the competitive career of Sarah Hughson has extended beyond the rinks of the PHF. Competing for the United States at the 2022 ISBHF Women’s Worlds in Laval, Quebec, the privilege marked an exciting chapter for the native of Moodus, Connecticut, also a former All-American with Elmira College.
Finishing as the leading scorer for the United States, Hughson earned a well-deserved place on the Tournament All-Star Team. Of note, her best performance consisted of a three-point output versus Lebanon, scoring once, while assisting on goals by Cherie Stewart and Karen Levin, logging the game winner.
Having first donned the US jersey at the 2019 ISBHF Worlds in Kosice, Slovakia, the thrill of wearing the Stars and Stripes once again represented an achievement filled with national pride. Additionally, the opportunity for Hughson to return in 2022 presented a pleasant prospect. With the event held in the Montreal area, the geographical proximity allowed her friends and family to make the five hour drive from Connecticut to fill the stands.
“Wearing a Team USA jersey is always one of the biggest honors you can have as an athlete. Growing up that was always the ultimate goal. I put on that USA jersey for the first time at the last worlds in Slovakia and it truly is a moment you never forget. It is an honor to wear the jersey and be apart of a team that represents your country and one I hope to do again.”
Among Hughson’s highlights at the 2022 edition of the ISBHF Worlds included the unique linkage to her professional ice hockey career. The presence of several stars from the PHF on the American roster stood as a seminal moment in national team lore. Including Sophia Agostinello, Elena Orlando, Colleen Murphy, the player that introduced her to ball hockey, plus the goaltending duo of Brooke Wolejko and Sonjia Shelly, perhaps the most unique aspect is the fact that the aforementioned all skated for the Connecticut Whale during their professional sojourn.
Cherie Stewart, one of the veteran competitors for Team USA, holds a unique place in Riveters history, having played during their inaugural season. Additionally, the most recent season saw Haley Frade appear in 20 games for the Riveters, return to ISBHF play in 2022, having also worn the Stars and Stripes in 2017. Surrounded by so many other professionals added another layer of enjoyment to Hughson’s recent competitive chapter.
“Yes! It is actually so cool the amount of PHF players (that) were on the team. I think I have played on a team with all of them except two during my time in the NWHL/PHF. Murph is the one who actually introduced me to ball hockey while we were playing for the Whale. I brought Brooke into the ball hockey world and then Sonj followed suit.
Sophia and Lando started playing ball hockey this past year and Cherie, I met playing ball hockey and was a teammate of mine on the 2019 USA team. Haley, I met this year. All incredible athletes and human beings. Extreme competitors and was honored to be apart of that group.”
Reflecting on the experience, the social facets emerge as the most poignant. From family making the trek from Connecticut to cheer her on, to calling many friends teammates for the second time, another compelling highlight involved engaging with players the world over. Finding common ground while learning new things, the connections made provided fulfillment beyond the final score. With a feeling of community and a shared enjoyment of fair play and good competition, Hughson’s pleasant demeanor represents the potential of the game to make a highly positive impact, one made better by her presence.
“There are always so many great moments at this tournament. I think my two favorite moments include playing in front of my family who came up from Connecticut to watch me play and being able to score a hat trick in front of them the day they got there. Sharing that whole experience with them was very surreal.
The second favorite moment is always interacting with all of the athletes from different countries. Meeting people from all over and trading apparel and cheering on the final games is a really cool moment to be apart of. The sportsmanship and excitement from each country and athlete is one of the best parts of the tournament.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CfRSSXRL-Fe/