Former Ireland international, collegiate coach and administrator joins national all-female youth league to kickoff new era

The Girls Academy (GA), the only national all-female youth league,
today announced the hiring of Patricia Hughes as the league’s new Commissioner, effective immediately. Hughes’ background in collegiate, developmental, and American youth soccer includes leadership roles as the United Soccer Coaches organization’s director of college programs and coach credentialing, Salem College’s director of athletics, the University of New Haven’s associate director of athletics for internal operations; and coaching roles at the University of Montevallo, Belmont University, and Auburn University.

“The Girls Academy couldn’t be more excited to announce Patricia Hughes as the next Commissioner of our organization,” said Girls Academy president Meghan Frey. “Trish’s comprehensive experience as a player, coach, and leader in the women’s game is unparalleled and speaks volumes to the impact she will have on our players and member clubs. She is a true collaborator, excellent communicator, and — most importantly — she shares the same core values as the GA to engage the voices of the player while remaining committed to cultivating an environment that empowers each player to reach their highest potential.”

Hughes departs from her current position as United Soccer Coaches’ Director of College Programs. During her time at the association, Hughes not only led College Services in advocating for college coaches and the game but helped create and direct the Credential of Coaching Excellence program designed to professionalize coaching education for college coaches of all sports.

As a player, Hughes was a two-time All-American (1989, 1991) and is the all-time leading scorer — male or female — for Coker College in South Carolina. A native of Ireland, Hughes was a member of the Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s National Team from 1985-91 and captained the Under-18 Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team from 1985-87.

“I am honored and excited to be named the commissioner of the Girls Academy League,” Hughes said. “I am humbled to have the privilege to lead this elite organization, which has created a unique playing platform for girls to excel on the field and grow as elite soccer players and leaders.”

“The Girls Academy League’s leadership has established an amazing foundation and unique playing experience that is designed to empower young women, and I am thrilled to be a part of this journey. I am extremely passionate about girls’ soccer and the empowerment of women, and the opportunity to collaborate and work with the players in the Girls Academy is a dream come true.”

Hughes steps into the role that was recently vacated by Lesle Gallimore — the league’s first and only League Commissioner to date — who departed the GA in May to become general manager of the NWSL’s OL Reign.

The Girls Academy hired Bloom Sports in June to drive its search for a new commissioner to identify a candidate to bring leadership and direction to the national staff, as well as collaborating with the GA board and member clubs. The commissioner’s primary responsibilities include: developing the most competitive and player-centric environment, and overseeing the league’s sponsorship, marketability, and operational procedures.

“I want to thank the Executive Board, and president Meghan Frey for their professional courtesy and the trust they have placed in me to serve as their new commissioner,” Hughes said. “I am committed to driving forward with our team and build on the legacy that has been laid by the leadership of the Girls Academy, that provides an elite and life-changing experience for our players, coaches, and Girls Academy clubs and families.”

On the field, the Girls Academy continues with regional and national events, including the Under-13/14 East Regional on October 13-16 in Westfield, Ind.; and the Winter Showcase and Champions Cup on Nov. 30 through Dec. 4 in Mesa, Ariz.