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Mark Martin's Notepad

Hayden's life filled with great sports moments
September 17, 2013

Mark Martin There are many out there who have enjoyed athletics in a variety of ways.

One such person who comes to mind is Parkersburg's Mike Hayden.

He was a great athlete during his days at Parkersburg High. Professionally, he enjoyed success leading the football program at Parkersburg South. Hayden then returned to his alma mater and was the quintessential athletic director on the high school level.

The final stage of his career was working at the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission office, serving as the executive director for the governing body of prep sports in the Mountain State.

Although he retired from the SSAC in 2007, Hayden is still very much involved in athletics. Besides spending plenty of time on the golf course, Hayden also stays busy as a color commentator for radio and TV coverage of high school and college sports. Hayden is a natural with a headset and microphone.

“I had some adjustments the first year because I had always been so active in everything we've done,” Hayden said reflecting on how quickly time has passed since leaving the SSAC.

“You had to learn to gear down. The nice thing is I'm free to do what I want to do when I want to do it. My wife and I will take trips every once in a while.”

Once an athlete, always an athlete and Hayden stays active on the links. “I play golf in a league,” he said.

He finds great satisfaction in doing the broadcasting work. He does about five high school games and one Marietta College football game each season for WTAP-TV in Parkersburg. Hayden lends his expertise in the winter to Parkersburg High Big Red basketball radio broadcasts.

“I really, really enjoy doing it,” said Hayden, who always handled interviews well during his coaching and administrative career. “It doesn't really tie me down and keeps me close to athletics.”

Hayden is active in the State Athletic Director's Association, handling the organization's newsletter.

This past summer in Colorado, Hayden was honored with a citation by the National Federation of High Schools for his work as both an athletic director and the executive director for the SSAC.

After an All-State career at Parkersburg High, Hayden played college ball at both Ohio and Morehead State.

Once the competitive days ended as an athlete, Hayden kept on competing as a coach.

After working in Ohio, he came back to Parkersburg to be the head coach at South, which was just a couple of years old. Hayden followed Steve McMillion to become the second football leader in the history of Parkersburg South Patriot football.

“I started at Parkersburg South in 1970. I went through the 1983 season,” Hayden said. “I had 14 wonderful years at Parkersburg South. We won 70 percent of our games in 14 years against what I considered to be the toughest schedule in the state of West Virginia. That was my philosophy. I didn't want to go into the playoffs to say I was in the playoffs. I wanted to go there and say we're going to win this thing.”

Hayden did everything possible to get his Patriot teams ready for the rigors of the regular season.

“We scrimmaged Canton McKinley and Massillon several times. It doesn't get any better than that. People would say, 'Why do you want to do that.' I said, 'No. 1, I want to go against the best I possibly can to see how good we are.' I wanted to say to my kids. 'Hey, you can go against some of the best high school teams in the country.’ And we did quite well against them.”

One year South met Massillon with the great Chris Spielman, a future Ohio State and NFL star.

“Had it not been for him,that scrimmage would have been even-steven,” Hayden said. “We ran a lot of counters back then. We would fool the whole Massillon football team except one guy – Chris Spielman. It seemed like his nose was on the ball every time.”

It wasn't just about football for Hayden as a coach.

“To me, yeah I wanted to win. But I wanted the kids to come out of the program with something else other than just winning a football game. No. 1, I wanted them to learn work ethic. I wanted them to work hard. No. 2, I wanted them to have pride in what they were doing. I wanted them to learn to have some integrity. Wins and losses in the end are not going to make you a good or bad person. But how you approach and how you handle the situation will determine that.”

He left coaching to become the assistant principal and AD in July of 1984 before heading off to lead the SSAC in 1999.

While the job was far from easy, Hayden feels good about the job he did and is grateful for the countless friendships he made along the way.

This Friday night prior to the Parkersburg High-Capital game, Hayden will be inducted into the Parkersburg Big Red Football Hall of Fame. It will come on a night in which the new home bleachers at historic Stadium Field will be christened. Hayden's induction Friday night places him into the Hall of Fame at both Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South. He is also a member of the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame.

Those honors are well-deserved for a man who has enjoyed a life – and continues to do so – in the world of athletics.


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