Ten years ago, after certain Islander games, the Hughes sisters used to use the Nassau Coliseum ice to practice.
Sarah was, of course, retired after her gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, but her sister, Emily was gearing up for the games.
“We loved the Coliseum,” Sarah Hughes said after the Salute to Strong Women before the New York Empire match at Forrest Hills Stadium. “We missed the Coliseum.”
Sure, there was music blasting and grumblings from the press box as reporters tried to write and file their stories, but the Hughes sisters were Long Island royalty, who put the village on the international map.
Sarah is a local fairy tale story. Besides winning the gold at the ripe old age of 16, she attended Yale and now is enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
And of course, she is a strong woman and invited to the Empire’s match by Billie Jean King and her life partner Ilana Kloss, who run the World Team Tennis league and the elder Hughes was happy to oblige.
“I worked with Billie Jean King and Ilana with them last year with their foundation,” the 30 year-old said. “And I was invited to come this year. I enjoy their philosophy and making the game more interactive, especially with kids in the process. Because a little kid who is playing sports and you see someone who is an expert at it or at a higher level, it encourages you to get better yourself.
“We are three women, who have achieved success in different fields.”
Besides looking to pass the bar in 2018, Hughes is spending her free time doing events like this and of course watching sports. And right now, she is “obsessed” with the Olympics.
“I stay up late watching,” she said. “The swimming is phenomenal. Katie Ledecky, she swims so fast and Michael Phelps and all his gold medals.”
Hughes also is a tennis buff attending the US Open, not so far way in Flushing Meadows and at the Garden.
But after all these years, it’s the relationship she has with Emily and with the people of Long Island that’s inspires her the most.
“It was great representing Great Neck and skating in local park, that’s not even open year round,” she said. “Seeing (Emily) go a different route, staying home with her family and with me in school and my whole career, it’s nice because it enabled the area to be more excited for the Olympics. You had someone to root for. And being in the area you had the ability to skate with both of us, it’s even fun for us, because we usually only skates with elite athletes.”
Like after Islander games in Nassau Coliseum.