Justin Hughes, a former collegiate and professional goalkeeper, remains at Creighton for his fourth season on the Creighton coaching staff. Hughes was a four-year letterwinner at North Carolina, playing under current CU head coach Elmar Bolowich from 2003-06 in Chapel Hill. Following a standout collegiate career, he was drafted by the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and spent two seasons with the Rapids.
In 2013 he helped guide the Jays through their inaugural season in the BIG EAST Conference and a tough non-conference slate. Creighton finished the season with a 9-9-2 overall record and a 4-4-1 mark in league play. Seven Jays claimed spots on 2013 All-BIG EAST Teams. Upperclassmen Eric Miller and Zach Barnes claimed NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region honors and later were drafted in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
He assisted Creighton’s return to the College Cup in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history as a member of coach Bolowich’s staff in 2012. The Bluejays finished the year with a 17-4-3 record and won the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) regular-season and tournament titles for a second straight season.
He helped the goalkeepers and the Jays’ back line maintain incredible defensive numbers in conference. Creighton tied the MVC record for the fewest goals allowed (one) in a Valley season, set by CU just one year earlier. CU entered the 2012 College Cup on a 14-match unbeaten streak before falling 1-0 to national champion Indiana in a national semifinal.
Hughes works primarily with the goalkeepers at Creighton, coaching All-American Brian Holt in 2011 during the assistant’s first season on the Bluejay bench. Holt finished that season with an NCAA record 0.21 goals against average, surrendering just five goals in 24 games. Hughes led the Bluejay keepers to the nation’s lead in goals against average (0.20), shutout percentage (0.790) and save percentage (.926).
He spent the 2010 season as an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Elon University in North Carolina, helping both squads post winning records.
The Wake Forest, N.C., native started all 43 matches he appeared in during his four seasons with the Tar Heels. UNC advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons in Chapel Hill, with Hughes posting two of the top three goals against average marks in school history. As a junior in 2005, he led the ACC with a 0.50 GAA, the second-best mark in school history at that point. That season included seven shutouts, six of which he posted consecutively to tie a UNC record. He was tabbed to the ACC All-Tournament Team in 2005 as well. As a freshman in 2003, he was in goal for a shutout win over top-ranked Maryland.
Prior to his senior season in 2006, he was named a MAC Hermann Trophy candidate, an honor bestowed upon the top player in collegiate soccer. He finished his career at UNC ranked second in school history with a 0.79 career goals against average. In addition to his play at UNC, he was also a member of the United States U-20 National Team pool, selected as one of 21 players to participate in the 2005 FIFA Youth World Championships in Holland.
Following his successful collegiate career, Hughes spent two seasons with the Colorado Rapids, helping the team to a 2007 Reserve Division title. He was also selected as the recipient of the 2008 Colorado Rapids Community Service Award after making 60 community appearances at schools, soccer clinics and camps. Hughes also spent one season playing for Real Maryland FC of the United Soccer Leagues.
Hughes was a Dean’s List honoree and member of the ACC All-Academic Team before graduating from North Carolina with a double major in exercise and sport science and geography. He earned an MBA from Creighton University in the spring of 2013. He and his wife, Mallory Nicole, were married in the summer of 2012.