Hughes embracing Lions life
In the immediate countdown to the team’s departure for lands colder (certainly) and whiter (maybe) we caught up with rookie Guard, Maz Hughes, a new face amongst the #Pride but one we think you’re going to be hearing a lot more about over the coming weeks and months of the impending 2017 season.
Hey Maz, so how did you hear about the Lions?
Hey! I’d always been aware of the Lions as I have a few friends who have played for the team over the years. However, I hadn’t realised quite how big the team was, or that they were reigning champions.
Did you know anything about American Football before joining?
I’ve always liked the sport, and gained a basic knowledge from watching pretty much every cheesy American Football film ever made. My husband was a founding member of our university American Football team (shout out to the Durham Saints!), so thanks to him I got to see quite a bit of football and learned some of the rules.
What prompted you to give it a try?
I’d always wanted to give the sport a try, but I never really knew how to go about getting into it. Then I saw a post someone had put on Facebook about the Lions rookie sessions’ and I thought it sounded like the perfect chance to give it a try, with no pressure. I absolutely loved my first session, and I’ve not looked back since!!
Have you played any others sports before?
Aside from a spot of netball at school (…I was always put next to the net due to my height! [Maz is 6ft 2]), my main sport has always been rugby. I’ve been playing since I was 14 and at a few different clubs, even playing with our own Jo Kilby and Antoinette Morgan back in the day, when I was a fresh faced 18-year-old! I’m now with Five Ways Old Eds Ladies and still love the sport.
What has been your experience so far of the sport and team?
My first impression of the Lions was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been really struck by everyone’s dedication and enthusiasm. Playing the sport itself has been an education – I hadn’t realised from the side-lines quite how tactical the game is, and how many factors all add up to make each play work.
What are the challenges you face playing the sport and in your position?
I play on the offensive line, and the power and aggression required feels quite natural after so many years of rugby but the body position though…that’s a different story!! The day after my first session I thought my legs were going to fall off. It’s also been a bit of a challenge learning the footwork, and all the plays!!! Luckily, the O-Line are a great group of ladies who have taken me under their wings to help get me on the right track.
What do you enjoy the most about the sport and the team?
Everyone trains with purpose, everyone wants to improve and everyone picks their team mates up and pushes each other forward to be better players. Everyone is so enthusiastic about the sport, it’s really refreshing.
How have you found your welcome into the team by the coaches, staff and team-mates?
To be completely honest, I was extremely nervous going into my first session but everyone was so welcoming and so friendly. People really took the time to speak to me and find out more about me, and to actively make me feel welcome. The coaches have been great and really supportive, they’re always pushing me to improve, but I never feel like I can’t ask for something to be explained or broken down for me.
What are your thoughts on playing in Finland?
Playing in Finland is going to be an incredible challenge. It’s such a huge step for the team to be going abroad to face the Wolverines, and it really shows how the Lions are always pushing to challenge themselves. For me personally, it’s daunting as this will be my first ever game, but hey, go big or go home right? If I can hold my own, and not let my team down, and put everything I’ve learned into practice, then I’ll be happy with that.
…and finally, how does it feel to be a part of the best team in the country?
The Lions have created a huge legacy already, in just the few short years they’ve been playing – three time national titles, undefeated for 3 years, huge number of players going on to represent Great Britain… it’s a bit intimidating at first but I think that’s a good thing. When you train with the Lions, you are training with the best. It makes you want to be better, and it makes you want to work hard to earn your place.
…and earn her place she has. A strong, smart and imposing lineman we’re hoping for big things from this big personality.
Good luck to Maz and all her team-mates travelling to Finland tomorrow morning, ahead of the Lions’ historic game against the Helsinki Wolverines, which kicks off at a rather eye-watering 8am on Saturday morning.
We’ll bring you news of their adventure as soon as we can.