10:03 AM

Alum Kathy Hug Takes on All Challenges

Bear Hug!

Alum Kathy Hug Takes on All Challenges

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Kathy (Kent) Hug is not afraid of a challenge.

Those challenges include Associates, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, marriage and motherhood, as well as Nittany Lions, Hoosiers, and Wolverines among other things.

kathyhugfamily-1024x730 Hug Family Photo by Kendra Pence Photography

Currently an Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Illinois, Hug transferred into Bellevue University from Iowa Western Community College in 1994. She played volleyball for the Bruins while pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, but she quickly expanded her role within the athletic department.

“I had a non-traditional athletic path at Bellevue,” she explained. “The first two years at BU, I played volleyball.  In my third year, I played both softball and soccer. The crazy thing about it is that I was trying to stay in shape by playing indoor soccer with some of the women’s players from Bellevue and then the coach asked me if I would like to use my fifth year of eligibility and play for them.  This was also the year that softball started at Bellevue, so I was able to jump right on that team also.”

She was named Athlete of the Year for the 1996-97 academic year.

“I loved every bit of it,” she said. “I loved the rivalries and the friendships best.  Athletics is family and that is what these coaches and teammates were to me.”

She began pursuit of her Master of Business Administration during the fifth year, completing that degree in January of 2000.

“I honestly didn’t consider an MBA program until I decided to use my fifth year of athletic eligibility,” she said. “That may have been the best decision I made as I know it would have been harder to go back to school once I had been out.”

That MBA is a differentiator for Hug.

“Many people who work in athletics tend to have a sport administration degree,” she said. “Although that might be helpful in some ways, I am happy that I have the business background and a degree that helped set me up to be well rounded in my field.   I would say that the ability to manage people and organizational skills to multi-task and work budgets are my biggest assets.”

Hug worked for five years in event management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before becoming part of the University of Illinois Athletic Department in 2002. She has been a sport administrator for men's and women's gymnastics, women's basketball, women's swimming and diving, baseball and softball and has served in event management for many sports. She has served as the NCAA Representative for tournament sites in soccer, volleyball, and softball.  Hug is currently involved in management of some of the athletic facilities and some of their construction projects.

“I have been part of some really exciting NCAA championships that I directed,” Hug said. “You don’t always get to see something from start to finish, but I have had the opportunity to do that many times.  The other thing I am most proud of is seeing some of the coaches that I helped hire and/or guide being successful and even win Big Ten or National Championships.   It’s the behind the scenes things that I am most proud of.”

Despite those accomplishments, it isn’t victories over Badgers or Boilermakers that Hug counts as her biggest wins. She has beaten breast cancer. Twice.

First diagnosed in 2006, and then again in 2009, Hug finished her last treatment in October of 2010 and has received good reports ever since. Her background as an athlete was among several factors that helped pull her through.

“I think I am a competitor in all facets.  When I was faced with breast cancer the first time in 2006, I felt that I needed to not skip a beat,” Hug said. “I had just gotten more responsibility at work, was a wife to a husband for two and a half years and a mom to a one-year old.  That in itself is a challenge, but throw in breast cancer and I tried to be superwoman and conquer it all.  I learned quickly that I couldn’t do it all, but I still tried.

“I guess the way I approached things was that I was given an obstacle in life – how I was to handle it was up to me.  I think that I didn’t lie down and quit, I was aggressive in my treatment plan and my job was to get well for my family.  So, I guess that is a good analogy – I approached my breast cancer diagnosis like an athlete would.  I worked hard, and didn’t give up.”