Jake Hughes, a former Peninsula College men’s soccer player and assistant coach, has been selected as the new head coach of the Pirate men’s team.

COLLEGE SOCCER: Peninsula selects former player and assistant Hughes as next men’s head coach

Peninsula College’s nationally-ranked men’s soccer program may have a European feel next fall.

The college last week named Jake Hughes, formerly of London, England, as its new head men’s soccer coach.

Hughes takes over following the late-January resignation of Cale Rodriguez, who left for a coaching job at University of California, Irvine.

“It’s a great honor to be named the head men’s soccer coach at Peninsula College, a program that is truly special and a program that I owe a great deal to,” Hughes said. “The support and dedication I have received is incredible and it speaks volumes about the quality of our program.”

Hughes won the job following a seven-week national search.

“It was a very competitive field of applicants,” said Rick Ross, Associate Dean for Athletics and Student Life.

“We had 34 applications from coaches whose experience ranged from high school to college to professional, and from 19 states and three countries.”

“I am convinced that Jake has the passion, work ethic and experience to not only win more championships for Peninsula College, but also to recruit student athletes who will represent us well on and off the field,” Ross added.

“Jake knows our program, he knows the NWAC, he knows the college and he demonstrated to our committee, and our administration, that he not only really wants the job, but that he really wants to coach the players in our program and that he really wants to live in our community.”

Hughes began his career at Peninsula as a player, who moved to Port Angeles from London as a walk-on, helping the Pirates win their first Northwest Conference soccer championship in 2010. His team was inducted into the Peninsula College Athletics Hall of Fame last June.

Hughes and his Pirates won a second league championship in 2011, but were knocked out in the NWAC semifinals. Hughes went on to play at Adams State, a Division II university in Alamosa, Colo., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English-Mass Communication in 2014.

He returned to Peninsula College to assist both the women’s and men’s teams in the fall of 2015 and then took over as the lead men’s assistant coach in 2016. He also has coached for Sequim High School and the Peninsula Soccer Academy.

Hughes, who now lives in Sequim, recently married Kelsey DeWald, a graduate of Sequim High School whom he met at Peninsula College. He is also completing a master’s degree in instructional design and technology.

Assisting Rodriguez, Hughes and the 2016 Pirates won the North Division championship, their eighth consecutive league title, and eventually bowed out in the quarterfinal round of the NWAC playoffs. That team included 13 talented freshmen.

“I’m very excited about our returning class and incoming players,” Hughes said.

“I believe we have high caliber characters who are hungry for success on and off the field. I look forward to our spring season and preparation for the fall.”

Hughes will be Peninsula’s fifth head coach since the college launched its soccer program in 2000. Port Angeles’ Jeff Pitman started the program; Andrew Chapman then built it into a nationally-ranked program, winning three NWAC championships; women’s coach Kanyon Anderson coached both the men and the women in 2014; and Cale Rodriguez then took the helm for the past two seasons, winning an NWAC title in 2015. In all, the Pirates have won nine region championships and four NWAC championships.

In addition to coaching Pirate soccer, Hughes will teach physical education courses and assist in the operation of the college’s fitness center.

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