Tennis, Basketball, Softball
Favorite team: Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning the Phillies Carpenter Cup softball tournament then getting to be recognized on the field at Citizens Bank Park.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: I slipped and fell in a pile of mud in the outfield twice during the same play.
Music on mobile device: Today’s Hip/Hop and R&B hits
Future plans: To continue my academic and softball career at Kutztown University
Words to live by: “You get what you work for, not what you wish for.” -Howard A. Tullman
One goal before you turn 30: Vacation in Bora Bora.
One thing people don’t know about me: My real name is Brianna. Bean is just a nickname given to me by my younger brother
By Mary Jane Souder
Bean Hughes is a rare breed.
And even that doesn’t begin to describe the Upper Moreland senior. Yes, Hughes plays three sports and plays all three extremely well, a rarity in today’s era of specialization. She played first singles for the tennis team and was a two-year captain. She was first team all-league in basketball and is a two-year captain, and those are her secondary sports. It’s softball that has landed Hughes a scholarship to Kutztown University.
But that’s stating the obvious. It’s much more than that.
There’s the not-so-little-matter of her name. Hughes will tell you that Bean is not her real name, but she prefers it over her given name, Brianna.
“My little brother could not pronounce Brianna right so it morphed into Bwianna, Ween and then Bean,” she said. “That’s what everyone knows me by, and I love it. For some reason, people remember that name, so it works.”
In truth, people are unlikely to forget Hughes by any name.
Consider only this past fall’s tennis season. The UM senior slipped and fell during the Golden Bears’ fourth match of the season at Upper Dublin, breaking her right wrist. It would have made perfect sense if she had decided to take the rest of the season off. Tennis, after all, is the third sport in her list of three, but that was not a consideration.
“She decided she was going to teach herself to play tennis left handed,” UM coach Kristin Summers said. “I’ve been playing tennis since I was eight years old, and I can tell you – I cannot play left handed. I played in high school and college, and I couldn’t play left handed.
“But her backhand is a natural stroke, so it’s easy for her to transfer that backhand to a regular forehand. That I’m going to say was easy, but serving, volleying and the backhand (weren’t). I think there was a sigh of relief – I hate to say this – from the other coaches when she got injured because it took out a dominant force. I would say tennis is the sport she puts the least into. She’s just a natural athlete. Anything she wants to do she probably can do.”
With a cast still on her right wrist, Hughes came back and played second doubles. By the SOL Tournament, she was playing number one doubles and – along with her partner Jocelyn Baumeister – advanced to the district tournament. The Golden Bears advanced to districts as a team for the second year in a row.
“I worked my way back up for the tournaments,” Hughes said. “It was a little difficult, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be.
“I think softball and having to have hand-eye coordination for basketball, my left arm is pretty strong already.”
For her part, Summers can’t say enough good things about Hughes.
“I really can’t,” the Golden Bears’ coach said. “She takes an awful lot on her shoulders when it’s probably not necessary, but that’s one of the good things about her. It makes her who she is.
“There are not many athletes or academic students that are as gifted as she is. She’s just all around. When she broke her wrist, it was crushing to her. I didn’t want her to play in all honesty. I give her a lot of credit for her fire and her passion to get her mom to take her to the doctor and get it taken care of so that she could play. It was something that was burning inside her. She proved all of us wrong. She definitely will be missed next year, and I’m sure her other two coaches will tell you that as well.”
Listening to Matt Carroll tell it, Hughes is something close to a marvel on the basketball court.
“Most people who are really good at one sport, especially a spring sport, don’t play basketball because to be good at basketball you have to put in extra time, and they just don’t want to do it,” the Upper Moreland coach said. “Basketball is a sport where you either want to stay in shape or you don’t want to play if you’re not a basketball player.”
Carroll and Hughes arrived on the scene at Upper Moreland at the same time. The then first-year coach already had a family connection – he was Hughes’ basketball camp counselor when she was in fourth grade and was teaching her brother in kindergarten when the job at UM opened.
“Her mother was a classroom volunteer, and she told me – ‘I think the job’s opening up, and I know you coached at Souderton,’” Carroll recalled.
Carroll applied and inherited Hughes, who had raw talent but lacked experience.
“When we got her in eighth grade, I think she shot with two hands,” he said. “She didn’t know that much about basketball, but she’s just a phenomenal athlete. Two years later, she got first team all-league.”
Hughes laughs when the subject of her two-handed shot comes up in conversation.
“Oh, it was so bad – the ball would go straight up in the air and straight back down,” she said. “I could barely dribble.”
Hughes earned a spot in the starting lineup as a freshman for a Golden Bear squad that was 0-22. Two short years later, UM was 14-9 and Hughes earned first team all-league honors.
That success didn’t just happen. Hughes worked hard at the sport.
“She's been a kid who’s known this entire time that once her senior year is over basketball is over,” Carroll said. “We’ll have home games, and I’ll get to the gym around four and she’s already been there for an hour.
“School is over at 2:45, and she works out from 2:45 until five o’clock because then we go watch film. She gets a two-hour workout before an hour-and-a-half game, and she doesn’t come out a whole lot. It’s crazy.”
It was not uncommon for Hughes to leave her high school softball practice and go directly to the basketball team’s open gym.
“She’ll still be in her softball uniform – she just puts on her basketball sneakers and will work out as long as possible,” Carroll said. “She’ll say, ‘Okay, coach, I have to leave. I have softball practice,’ and then she’d go to her travel team.
“It’s not like, ‘I want to show my face to get more playing time.’ She’s been playing 30 minutes since she was a freshman. She does it because she just badly wants to get better, which is crazy because it’s not her main sport. There’s no reason for her to do what she does beside the fact that she really likes it.”
Three days after the Golden Bears’ softball season ended in the district playoffs last spring, Hughes was in the gym for a four-hour basketball workout with Carroll.
“It makes me want to work harder,” the Golden Bears’ coach said. “Everything she’s done has been in our gym. She doesn’t play AAU, she doesn’t go to camp - she’s a very self-made basketball player.
“I think Bean could easily be a Division II basketball player. She just makes everything go and everything possible.”
Ask Hughes about the extra hours she put into basketball, and her response speaks volumes.
“I just figure if I’m going to spend three to four months out of my year playing basketball – I want to be good at it, and I love it,” she said. “Between the four of us seniors, we are literally like a family. It’s incredible.
“Honestly, that’s what makes basketball so great – the girls and the bond with the coaches. If we really needed anything, all four of them would be there for us, and all the girls would be there for us.”
Hughes grew up playing softball, soccer and basketball. She gave up soccer after tearing a ligament in her knee at the end of her sixth grade summer.
“I switched over to tennis and played tennis in seventh grade until this year,” she said. “Basketball was just Upper Moreland Hoops for the township teams.
“I played softball but not competitively. Everyone else started travel earlier than I did. I wasn’t really serious about travel softball until I was 10.”
It’s easy to take Hughes’ ability on the softball diamond for granted since it is, after all, her number one sport. A first team all-league selection at shortstop last spring, Hughes hit .561 with eight home runs, nine doubles, 23 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
Scott Ludlow has coached Hughes in either basketball or softball since she was nine years old, and the UM coach compares her to legendary Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt.
“It never looked like he was trying hard, but he was always successful and made it look so easy,” Ludlow said of Schmidt. “To me, that’s the kind of kid she is. Everything looks easy for her.
“Nonetheless, you know she’s always working hard to get better. She’s one of the best hitters I’ve ever coached without question.”
Ludlow amended that statement.
“She’s without a doubt one of the top players I’ve ever coached in the 22 years I’ve been doing this,” the Golden Bears’ coach said. “Her athleticism, her knowledge of the game – she thinks the game. Some of the stuff you see her do on the field, it just comes natural. It’s spectacular to watch, but it’s just the way she plays.”
Hughes plays softball on the travel circuit for Brian Kalesse’s Nightmare 18U Gold squad out of Philadelphia.
“Freshman year I was on these (travel) teams where the goal was to get committed and play in college, but I wasn’t serious about it,” she said. “I didn’t start going to camps until the middle of last year. I went to a whole bunch of different softball camps for schools I wasn’t even serious about at all. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
“I knew I didn’t want to play D-I. I wasn’t really looking for that type of commitment. D-II seemed like the perfect mix. Kutztown came along at Carpenter Cup, which was fantastic. Everything about Kutztown was where I wanted to be.”
Hughes will enter Kutztown as a criminal justice major.
With her final high school softball season still ahead and half of her basketball season remaining, Hughes has business to take care of before she leaves Upper Moreland.
“She’s really a key component of why we’ve had our success,” Ludlow said. “She’s one of those kids – as good as she is, you ask her to do something and she does it and does it to the best of her ability whatever the situation might be.
“She’s just always been a really hard worker, and you look at the way kids react around her and to her – she’s not just a great softball player, she’s a great person. The kids like playing with her. She has a positive attitude and has a positive influence on everybody around her. She’s a pleasure to coach.”
“Every coach deserves a player like Bean once in their career,” Carroll said. “I started with her.”
All SuburbanOneSports.com articles (or portion of articles) can be turned into keepsakes. For information, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/article/content/turn-online-features-keepsake-posters-0086874