Thursday, October 6, 2005

Coach Hayes ‘this is your life’
• Surprise birthday party honors successful coach


Naylond Hayes had his best birthday party ever Saturday evening, Sept. 24.

His family surprised him with a celebration attended by friends and former players.

“Life doesn’t get any greater than this,” said the successful basketball coach, who turned 63 on Sept. 26. “This is great.”

Dr. A.J. Stovall presided over “Naylond Hayes, This Is Your Life,” which was held at Asbury United Methodist Church in Holly Springs. He said Coach Hayes has won championships at every level – youth basketball, high school and small college.

His Holly Springs High School Hawks have captured back-to-back state crowns in 2004 and 2005. At Rust College, he claimed a national championship in 1977.

“Very few coaches have won back-to-back state titles,” Stovall said. “People know about Holly Springs. Holly Springs is at the top of the list because of Coach Hayes.”

His overall coaching record is 568-196.

“He’s a master teacher when it comes to basketball,” Stovall said.

Former player Lowell Garrett said when he left Coach Hayes’ leadership, he better understood his importance.

“You might not agree with some of his tactics, but his goal was to get everything out of you so you could best benefit the team,” Garrett said. “He taught me more about basketball than anybody I ever played for.

“He was also deeper than the moment. There was always a purpose behind what he did. He helped me as I’ve matured as a man.”

Former player Clyde Peete remembered showing up on the court at Rust College and making a behind-the-back pass at mid-court.

“Coach Hayes shouted, ‘Boy, we don’t play ball down here like that,’ Peete said. “I thought, ‘This man is trying to change my style.’

“Coach Hayes taught me the game of basketball – the Xs and Os.”

Clencie Cotton called his good friend, Coach Hayes, “a leader of men.”

He said in addition to providing leadership on the court, he is providing it as Ward 2 alderman for the City of Holly Springs.

“He provides quiet, dignified leadership that this city needs,” Cotton said.

Hayes’ fishing partner and good friend, Fred Brown, called Hayes a “professional coach and professional teacher” and “he’s working on being a professional fisherman.”

“He’s getting better (at fishing),” Brown said with a laugh. “Even when the fish are not biting, we have a good time.”

State Representative Kelvin Buck presented Hayes with a certificate of recognition from the legislature. Peete presented Hayes a plaque on behalf of his former players.

The crowd also stood and applauded Hayes’ wife, Wonso.

“Without her, there’s no way he would have been able to accomplish these things,” Stovall said. “You have to have that person, that supporting cast behind you.”

Wonso Hayes then addressed the former players.

“Every one of you guys belong to me,” she said, “and I thank God for you. This is the best birthday in the life of my husband.”

Coach Hayes said all the awards he has received mean nothing.

“I’m not a materialistic person,” he said. “I’ve most proud to see people I’ve had contact with develop into good people.

“I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished, but without all of you, it would not have been possible. I love you all.”

Eric Petty, one of several ministers who once played for Hayes, concluded the program with remarks and prayer.

“Coach Hayes had to be a father figure to me,” Petty said. “He took me under his wing. He taught dedication, sacrifice and commitment. He’s much more than a coach – he’s a friend, mentor and leader.”

Others on the program included his children, Ralph Hayes and Charlye Hayes Tate, former players Isaac Lilas, Steve Nance and Larry Strong, friend Alfred Moore, pastor J. Michael Culbreth and community leader Barry Burleson.

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