Pete Hughes' first day of college turned out to be among the most important of his life.
Hughes said from that day forward, he knew he wanted to be a college coach. That also happened to be the day he met his future wife, Debby.
A four-year starter on both the baseball and football teams at Davidson College, Hughes was hired as Oklahoma's new baseball coach.
Before that, he was head baseball coach at Virginia Tech, Boston College and Trinity University in San Antonio.
He spoke with The Oklahoman at length about his life, passion for sports and the frightening heart attack that nearly took it all away just after the 2012 baseball season ended.
I knew I wanted to coach from Day 1 in college. I was around our football coaches and the guys that recruited me and their families, and I just knew that was gonna be a part of me. I knew I wasn't gonna be good enough to continuing playing sports, but I love to compete so much. I thought it was a great way to keep the competitive juices alive and to raise a family. I was locked in and motivated to do that from Day 1.
Competing on the recruiting trails, competing on the field. It's just something I love to do. Something that really drives me is competition, and I can't imagine it not being a part of my life. When I got out of college and had to think of a career, I knew it was gonna be a competitive one, whether it was in sales or whatever.
I wanted to work my tail off, and I was gonna do it in whatever sport I was gonna coach, but I just thought, ‘Let me work like crazy and be able to compete 56 times a year.' It used to drive me crazy that we used to do all that work in football for, back then, just 10 days out of the year.
My wife and I have been married 17 years, and with this crazy profession, I've never once walked through the door and had anything put on my shoulders. She takes everything off my plate, lets me recruit like crazy, lets me stay away for extended periods of time and do it without a guilty conscience.
I had two tremendous parents who are no longer with us, but they affect every single decision I make today. I was lucky to have two unbelievable parents — a schoolteacher and a nurse — hard working, humble people.
I've been exposed to two tremendous coaches.
Jerry York, the hockey coach at Boston College. The guy's won five national championships, one of them was at Bowling Green. Nobody wins a national championship at Bowling Green, and he won it in hockey. His model and his approach every day to coaching, and what he gets out of different teams, was great to be around eight years.
I just worked side-by-side for seven years with Frank Beamer, who is just the ultimate team guy. He's the ultimate in class, a model of consistency and composure. I'm very aware of my surroundings and the people I've worked with over the years, and try to draw inspiration from those people, and those two have been unbelievable in their sports.
I'd be crazy to not take advantage of the resources that I'll have in front of me for improving myself professionally at OU.
Now that I look back at (the heart attack), it makes perfect sense that I had an artery that was 99 percent blocked. I couldn't figure out the past two months why I was so low energy. That's not who I am, on the practice field or anywhere. I was struggling with my intensity level and my energy level.
I struggled getting out of bed in the morning. I'm usually a morning guy, and I couldn't get out of bed until 8 in the morning. My normal workouts were exhausting.
I thought I had something caught in my esophagus because the pain was so localized and deep in my chest. I thought it was a salmon bone actually. I stayed there for six hours, finally it was excruciating, and I needed to get it removed. That was my mindset. So I got in the car, left my wife a note at 1 in the morning, and drove myself to the ER.
We were on track to get a chest X-ray and a CT scan, and he was gonna put a scope down my throat to get it removed because I told him what I had for dinner. In the meantime, he had taken blood work, and he came back in and said, ‘We're gonna go a different route on this thing because you just had a heart attack.'
I had the procedure the next day. They put a stent in. I was 99 percent blocked to my main artery.
I checked out the next afternoon and went on the road recruiting. I drove to Allentown, Pa., six hours each way. I felt good. When you go from 99 percent blocked to wide open, you feel good, you feel better.
It hasn't slowed me down, obviously, with a job transition. I'm hitting the ground running in recruiting, and talking to the roster, and trying to get a program going. To make it yours, it takes a lot of work and a lot of energy, and I haven't felt tired at all.