Coach, Teacher Shapes Future Of Payson On Court, Field And Classroom



Before Kenny Hayes decided to pursue a career in education, he spent more than a year preparing for a nursing degree.

He valued the altruism of the medical profession, but when he experienced the reality of it, Hayes decided to try something a little less ... vivid.


Kenny Hayes coaches the boys junior varsity basketball team and serves as defensive coordinator for the Longhorn varsity football team.

"The day I dropped out of nursing, I was supposed to give a catheter to someone," he said.

As a coach and third-year history teacher at Payson High School, the 27-year-old Hayes has found other ways to contribute to the community.

He loves coaching, and considers himself a sports junkie.

Hayes holds a particular fondness for basketball. He'll tell you about his favorite college team, the Syracuse University Orangemen, and that the San Antonio Spurs are all about personality -- Manu Ginobili and former player, David Robinson. He's a Raiders' fan, but that's waning, and he roots for the White Sox.

Hayes coaches the boys junior varsity basketball team and serves as defensive coordinator for the Longhorn varsity football team. Coaching, he said, is like most things in life. The secret to success is a combination of love, hate, respect and camaraderie.

"It's a fine line between getting the kids to like you and hate you," he said. "You can know all the basketball in the world, but if you can't teach it, it doesn't matter."

Hayes, like many of the students he coaches, played team sports as a child. He started out in Little League, and, during high school, he ran track, swam, and played football, basketball and baseball.

"I was decent," he said. "I worked hard and learned the game. It's all about what you can teach and how you can teach it."

Payson is a booming metropolis compared to his hometown of Valier, Mont. -- population 500.

"Payson is the largest town I've lived in," said Hayes. "I'm kind of a homebody. I like being able to go anywhere in town in five minutes."

Hayes attended University of Montana Western in Dillon, Mont. -- a town of about 4,000 people. There he received a degree in physical education and history.

The complexity of American history -- especially the Revolutionary War and contemporary time from World War I to now -- captures his interest.

"I enjoy history," he said. "I just like knowing the truth."

Shortly after his college graduation, Hayes needed a change of scenery, so he found the Rim Country through his older sister. She, then a physical education teacher at PHS, welcomed his arrival. Hayes applied for and was given a teaching position.

Off the court and out of the classroom, Hayes golfs, reads books about history and plays video games.

"When I'm not playing video games, I'm watching sports. ESPN SportsCenter is by far the best channel," he said.

And sometimes, not often, when the cosmopolitan craving hits him, he travels to his sister's house in Phoenix, or to Los Angeles where his identical twin, Kevin -- a fashion designer -- lives.

"We're complete opposites," he said.

Hayes said as an educator, his youth helps and hinders his ability to teach. Students tend to identify with his demographic and they're more apt to seek his advice and guidance. But keeping his distance and maintaining authority is sometimes a challenge.

Parents can make or break a student's success, he said, and he encourages families to stay engaged in the education process. Hayes always welcomes input and participation.

"The more parents are involved, the better the students will be," he said. "I like knowing the parents."

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