Passing of the Torch
He’s been in education for 34 years, the last 17 at Wando, and he’s been coaching for practically just as long, but Athletic Director Bob Hayes has no plans to stop anytime soon.
“This is the greatest career in the world,” Hayes says of his job—something not many can say after three decades.
Hayes spent the first 17 years of his career as a physical education teacher, then moved into the Head Football Coach/Athletic Director role for nine years before he became Athletic Director full-time.
“It’s one of those jobs where you can have a plan, a nice to-do list, but you quickly learn to stray from the plans as you deal with fires that pop up, mostly due to weather since we’re completely dependent on that,” Hayes says.
Hayes oversees the schedules and travel for the 36 teams, 22 varsity sports and 1,000 student athletes at Wando. He’s in charge of these major details down to the smaller ones such as making sure ticket-takers are present.
“Sometimes I miss the interactions with the kids, but instead of coaching the kids, it’s more like I’m coaching the coaches now. We have a great group here…about 70 of them. It’s kind of like a passing of the torch,” Hayes says.
Hayes attributes much of his success to the coaches he had in his life growing up. In fact, they are one of the reasons he became a teacher and coach himself.
“I learned from them, respected and wanted to be like them. For me, the greatest compliment I can get is when I hear that one of my former players is getting into coaching or teaching,” Hayes says.
Perhaps the best coach of all for Hayes was Lucy Beckham, late principal of Wando.
“It was because of her that I applied at Wando,” Hayes says as he points to a picture on his desk of himself and Beckham posing in front of the school. “She was my true mentor and everything I do in this job is because of her. She always put the kids first. I always try to think about what Lucy would do and I do that.”
In addition to enhancing the high school experience, Hayes feels that being involved in sports, and extracurriculars in general, gives the students practice for real life situations.
“They get to learn commitment, hard work, goal setting. But I think the most important thing is they learn what it means to be a good teammate. A very small percentage of high school students go on to play sports, but each one of them will go on to be part of some type of team,” Hayes says.
For Hayes, the most important team he’s a part of is with his wife, Tracy, and their children, Alex and Sam, who are in college after graduating from Wando.
Like the great coaches before him, Hayes continues to pass on their lessons and he, in turn, has become a great coach, educator and mentor himself.