Like any dedicated student athlete, Lexi Hughes knows what it means to be busy, even as the women’s basketball season draws to a close. The final regular season home game was last weekend, and the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament starts in a week. Between that, and a summer graduation and looking for what to do next, Lexi’s senior year as a recreation management major and marketing minor keeps her on her toes.
Lexi has had her eye on Missouri State since she was a junior in high school in Kansas City. The MSU recruiters were some of the most persistent, she says. “I saw them all the time, so that made me interested.” After visiting campus and seeing the Lady Bears program, she made her decision to attend. Another reason for picking MSU was its proximity to home. With a huge supportive family and three younger sisters, Lexi appreciates how easy it is to visit her hometown. This winter, she had a game in Kansas City, and 80 members of her family showed up to cheer her on.
What could recreation management and marketing have in common? Marketing classes, Lexi says, teach her why people want or need certain things, while recreation management classes show her how people interact as a team. Lexi says she sees these things all come into play when she speaks publicly or networks as a part of the Lady Bears team.
Coach Kellie Harper’s philosophy is to get new players used to being in the public eye very early, having them attend press conferences as soon as they get on the team. Lexi says that between that and having to “go to media” after a game, being team captain and interacting with fans during events, she doesn’t mind speaking at all. Getting this public speaking experience also helps her in class, because she feels more confident giving presentations and speeches.
Lexi loves how the athletic teams at Missouri State interact with each other and support each other at games and events. Being a student athlete, she says, is “the best experience I can imagine…it’s just something that you can’t explain, really.” She also loves being a part of entertainment for people and how she can’t go anywhere in Springfield without seeing a friend. “Our fan base is like no other,” she says. She understands that it’s certainly unusual for women’s basketball, especially at larger schools. For Lexi, the struggles of scheduling classes and traveling just come with the task of balancing school and basketball life, but she wouldn’t trade it for any other school experience.
Lexi enjoys being in the present and her last year of being with the Lady Bears, but she also looks forward to what comes next. She says if she gets an offer to play basketball professionally after her bachelor’s, for sure she’s going to take it. For women’s basketball, playing overseas is a more attractive option than playing in the United States. Here, being drafted doesn’t necessarily mean play time, and foreign leagues pay significantly more. While being away from family for eight months out of a year would be a challenge, Lexi is still interested in being able to play and also how playing professionally would increase her chances of coaching basketball someday, her end goal. “It’s something I feel like I could do for the rest of my life,” she says.
Along with a desire to coach, get a master’s degree and play professionally, Lexi toys with the idea of going into parks and recreation as well. She’s enjoying the variety of opportunities she has before her right now, and looks forward to see what presents itself as she gets closer to graduation. Her main goal, though, is to continue to be a role model to her younger sisters and inspire others with her work ethic and commitment to both basketball and her studies.