James "Jim" Hughes g85
Jim Hughes g85 began his journey with Fort Wayne Bible College (FWBC) long before he stepped onto the soccer field as a freshman in the fall of 1981. His father, Dr. Robert John Hughes, III, moved his family from Kansas, to Fort Wayne in 1968, when he joined the FWBC faculty to teach science and Bible–so Jim grew up as part of the FWBC community. Early memories range from his five-years-old birthday party in the home of Dr. Wes g51 and Mary Carolyn (Steiner g52) Gerig, to hanging around his father’s science lab, to cheering on Falcons basketball team members Todd Habegger g76 and Larry “Sugar Bear” Lewis g76.
Sports were a vital element in Jim’s life. He played point guard for Fort Wayne Christian School (FWCS) in fifth grade, enjoyed gymnastics and wrestling in physical education classes, and took martial arts lessons during junior high. His older brother, R. John Hughes, IV g85, helped spark an interest in weight lifting and bodybuilding, which Jim nurtured at a small local gym. Jim worked there seven years and, while doing so, met his bride-to-be, Renee Stauffer. They married in March 1987.
Jim added dance, intense flexibility training, and 6.2-mile morning runs to school in order to improve his overall conditioning. Of all his athletic interests, however, soccer became the central passion in Jim’s life when, while still in junior high at FWCS, he was moved up to the varsity team. His junior and senior high school soccer seasons he was named Northern Indiana Christian Athletic League All-Conference, and he was thrilled to contend for a conference championship under bright lights at the University of Notre Dame. He also reconnected with former teammates and played on the FWCS basketball team during his senior season.
When Jim enrolled at FWBC in the fall of 1981, he became part of a Falcon soccer team that had just moved from club to varsity status the year before under coach Denny Williams. The team went 5-7-1 Jim’s freshman year. Jim, who led the team in assists, was named to the Bethel College All-Tourney Team and finished with both NCCAC All-Conference and NCCAA II All-District honors. While teammates Ray Hylton g86 (the leading scorer) and Steve Schlatter g82 (team MVP) received similar recognition, Jim especially enjoyed lining up again with his brother, John, who made All-Conference Honorable Mention.
The next year, in the fall of 1982, the incomparable Graham West g88 became a Falcon and Jim, now team captain, suddenly had two great scorers to feed (Graham and Ray). This helped Jim lead the entire nation (NCCAA II) in assists, while the team record improved to 9-6-1. The Falcons made the NCCAA II District tourney; Jim was again named to the All-District squad.
In spring 1983, Jim was invited to the first round of expanded US Olympic team tryouts at Indiana University and made the Indiana State Select Team. After Indiana Select Team victories over squads from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, Jim’s chance for further notice on the national scene came to an abrupt halt upon tearing his ACL during an informal workout back at FWBC.
When Professor Hughes retired from his post at FWBC in 1983, Jim left FWBC, too, and moved with his parents to Texas, their home state. However, Jim was lured back to FWBC to help Denny Williams coach in the fall of 1984, and he soon signed up for more classes and rejoined the team on the field as well. The squad went 16-5 and won their first NCCAA II District title by defeating Grace Bible 5-1. The Falcons would finish fourth in the national tournament. Jim earned NCCAA II All-American honors, along with Graham, making them the first two FWBC soccer players to receive First-Team accolades.
Jim would then coach basketball and soccer at FWCS, soccer at Elmhurst High School, and strength training for the wrestling team at Canterbury High School, while assisting some seasons at FWBC.Jim also continued to play soccer competitively, and the German Sports Club Soccer team he and Graham West helped lead became the 1986 Indy Governor’s Cup Champions. In 1988 Jim was a member of the Summit Bank team in the Fort Wayne Men’s League that took both the regular season and the Three Rivers Tourney championships.
In the fall of 1987, after multiple stints as an assistant coach, Jim became the head soccer coach at FWBC, an affiliation that would continue through the 1993-1994 school year. His responsibilities would later expand to include coaching men’s basketball (1989-1991) and women’s basketball (1992-1993) as well as to his appointment as associate athletic director.
The campus itself experienced a double transformation during those years, becoming Summit Christian College, then Taylor University Fort Wayne. In the spring of 1994, Jim received a ten-year service award at TUFW for his contributions to the athletic department, including his years as an assistant coach.
One of the most dramatic developments for the athletic program came shortly after Jim was named head soccer coach, when Jim learned from a contact back in Texas about the availability of top-flight fitness equipment for a mere ten cents on the dollar. The weight machines, free weights, aerobic machines, and mirrors came from a complex Jim had formerly rehabilitated but which was now being shut down. Thus the Fort Wayne campus providentially acquired a first-class fitness center for a fraction of its real worth.
While Jim’s primary expertise was in soccer, he enjoyed unexpected success coaching men’s basketball, taking a squad that had gone 0-23 the year before (under a different coach) to back-to-back NCCAA II Regional playoffs in 1989-1990 and 1990-1991. The second year Jim was also named NCCAA II Regional Coach of the Year.
Some of Jim’s fondest memories from his years in the athletic department at Fort Wayne relate to his camaraderie with fellow coaches Deb Rupp g76, Bud Hamilton g68, and Scott Haddix g94, as well as the privilege of working with outstanding student athletes such as Corey Laster g93.
Jim, his wife, Renee, and their young daughter, Mariah, moved in 1995 to Charlotte, North Carolina, as they sensed God’s call to minister with Missionary Athletes International (MAI). There they were able to rejoin Graham and Lori (Fazio fs86) West helping with the Charlotte Eagles Soccer Club, a professional team, while serving in numerous affiliated roles, including Director of Administration and Finance for MAI. Jim has made sports ministry trips to Holland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Kenya.
Jim continued coaching high school and club teams on the side, including Cabarrus Flames (girls) Soccer (1996-2000—Charlotte Challenge League Champions in 1997), Lake Park Christian (boys) basketball (2005-2007), and Arborbrook Christian (girls) basketball (2007-2009).
In 2011 Jim transitioned to Peregrine Ministries International (PMI), a ministry with a special focus on guiding men, inspiring them, and strengthening their families. Jim continues as one of two key leaders at PMI.
Jim and Renee are active at Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, North Carolina. Mariah, their eldest child, is now married to Joseph Metzger, and the young couple has blessed Jim and Renee with a granddaughter, Chloe. Erica, Jim and Renee’s youngest, is a student at Liberty University while working for corporate Chick-fil-A.