On May 5th, Ohio Machine defenseman Brett Hughes stepped out onto a Major League Lacrosse field for the first time since 2009. Twelve games later, Hughes will be stepping out onto the field for the last time in his career. At the end of “Fan Appreciation Night” on August 11th at Selby Stadium, Hughes will announce his retirement from Major League Lacrosse.
“I can’t think of a better way to end my career,” said Hughes. “I feel healthy and excited I’m going out on top. It’s a perfect little ending.”
Hughes began his path to MLL when he enrolled at the University of Virginia in 2001 to play lacrosse after completing an illustrious career at Upper Arlington High School both as a lacrosse and football star. During his time with the Cavaliers, Hughes was named a two-time All-American and helped lead his team to the 2003 NCAA Championship.
In 2005, Hughes was selected by the New Jersey Pride with the #1 Overall Pick in the Supplemental Draft. Hughes made an immediate impact in the MLL, starting 11 games in his first year and picking up 24 groundballs. While with the Pride, Hughes was named an MLL All-Star and MLL Defensive Player of the Week. After three seasons with New Jersey, Hughes became a member of the Los Angeles Riptide where he played with current Machine teammates Chazz Woodson, Matt Casey, Jim Borell and Greg Bice.
After the 2008 season, Hughes took some time off from the league until getting picked up by the Denver Outlaws. Hughes played in two games for the Outlaws, including the 2009 MLL Championship game. After that season, Hughes took another break from the MLL and did not return to the league until being drafted by the Machine.
Hughes was content with his absence from the game but was enticed back by the allure of playing in Ohio for one more season. “I wanted to come back to play in front of my friends, family and the community who got behind me in high school and college,” said Hughes.
“Brett has always been a consummate professional both on and off the field and that’s one of the biggest reasons we were so excited to make him a part of the Machine in our inaugural season,” said Machine President and General Manager John Algie. “His work ethic, team-first attitude and ability to lead by example not only showed up on the playing field but also in the development of our talented rookie class. The Ohio Machine is a better organization for having had Brett as a member. I know I speak for all of our players, coaches, staff and fans when I thank him for his commitment this season and wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his life.”
The Ohio Machine proved to be a perfect fit for Hughes who returned to play lacrosse in Ohio for the first time since high school. So far this season, Hughes has played in 11 games and has picked up 10 groundballs.
“Throughout his noteworthy lacrosse career, Brett has not only been an outstanding player and leader amongst his peers, but most importantly he has been a significant ambassador of the game and an inspiration and positive role model to all of the lives he has touched as part of his two foundations, Lacrosse the Nations and Another Best Day,” said Garber. “Throughout my 34 years coaching career there have been few players that I have coached who have exemplified the mental toughness and extra effort that Brett has brought to the playing field on a daily basis. As the head coach of the Ohio Machine I wish Brett the best of luck with all of his future endeavors and thank him for his leadership and efforts during our inaugural season, he definitely made our team better as the season progressed.”
The season has not only been an on field success for Hughes, but has also allowed him to continue to work on growing his non-profit organization, Lacrosse the Nations. “When I decided to come back to the game I knew it would make traveling easier if I was playing for a bigger cause, so I decided to donate my salary to Lacrosse the Nations,” said Hughes.
Along with former Middlebury lacrosse player Brad Corrigan, Hughes founded Lacrosse the Nations in 2008. The goal of Lacrosse the Nations is to use the game of lacrosse to bring joy, hope and change into hard-pressed communities enduring poverty. The organization currently has programs in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the United States.
Recently Lacrosse the Nations established its first program in Ohio at Weinland Park Elementary in Columbus. Led by current Machine defenseman Greg Bice, the Weinland Park program consists of 15 fourth and fifth graders who participate in the Buckeye Youth Lacrosse League. Being able to see the impact the organization has made in Columbus first hand has meant a lot to Hughes. “We had the chance to work in such an amazing community and to see it first hand is special,” said Hughes.
After his retirement from the MLL, Hughes hopes to continue his philanthropic work and expand the work he has done with Lacrosse the Nations and his other non-profit Lacrosse the Pond.
Even though fans won’t be able to see Hughes in a Machine jersey next year he plans on being a part of the Machine community. “It’s always fun to come here and help these guys out,” said Hughes. “And I will certainly be there next year to cheer them on.”
Ohio Machine Players on Hughes’ Retirement:
#1 Chazz Woodson - "I've had the pleasure of knowing Brett for the last 10 years, and playing with and against him for the last eight. He's been a consistently great defender and even better, a consistently great teammate and person. The passion he brings to the game, locker room and life is contagious. I'm proud to call him a friend."
#8 Max Schmidt - Brett is someone that I have looked up to my entire lacrosse career. To have the opportunity to finally play with Brett in the state that has given us both so much is such a great honor. Brett was one of the first to help pave the way for lacrosse players getting recruited out of the state of Ohio and many people have fed off of his accomplishments (including myself). To this day he remains one of the few staples of lacrosse in the state of Ohio. He is a great lacrosse player, he is a visionary, a great leader, but an even better person.
#23 Jim Borell- “Even though Brett is one of the fiercest competitors I know and might go down as one of the best defenders of all time, I think his legacy will be how much he has given back to the game and how he has used lacrosse to help kids in third world countries and made a difference in so many kids’ lives. In a time where the game is all about flash, gear and appearance, Brett has always been about substance and work ethic and his approach to the game has really been a breath of fresh air and real example for kids all over. I consider myself extremely lucky to have played with him. The sport needs more guys like Brett Hughes.”
#66 Steele Stanwick - "Brett Hughes is an amazing player but an even more amazing person. I have learned so much from him in only a short period of time and thank him for all his support this season."
For tickets to watch Brett Hughes in his final career game on August 11th during "Fan Appreciation Night," call (614) 754-1973 or click here. The game includes several phenomenal promotions including $1 Bratwurst, post-game fireworks presented by Bud Light and 19 lucky fans will also be able to win game-worn jerseys right from the players after the game.