Hayes stands as example to younger players
by Jon Dohrer
Kingston Public Schools
Yes, Jared Hayes, who was recently named all-state in baseball, is among the more accomplished and decorated athletes in Kingston High School history. When his coaches are asked about him, however, they find themselves talking more about who he is as a person than his sports achievements.
They mention his work ethic, his tenacity, his humility, his faith, his character and his general likeability.
In truth, those other attributes almost certainly led to his athletic accolades.
Hayes, a three-sport star at KHS, was recently selected for the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State game, to be played July 30 at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.
Kingston head baseball coach Darron Henson said Hayes may be only 5-8 with less-than-blazing speed, but he has found ways to overcome every hurdle in his path.
"Jared got more out of his athletic ability than any other kid I've ever coached, and I've been around some good ones," Henson said. "He put in the time and effort, and he never made any excuses. Plus he's just a great kid, a great teammate and a great person to be around. The combination of all those things is something truly special."
Hayes adds the all-state honor to a long list of sports achievements his senior year. He was named all-district or all-conference in football, baseball and basketball, and earned the prestigious "All-Star by Class" designation in football.
Hayes, a devout Christian whose family is important to him, enjoyed sharing the moment of the all-state announcement with his parents, educators Brett and Kila Hayes. After having been initially named an alternate, the call informing him he had been selected to play in the all-state game came weeks later.
"Oh, we were all pretty pumped," Hayes said. "My mom, dad and me — we were all pretty excited."
He is expected to play infield in the all-state game.
The Hayeses have played no small role in their son's development. Brett Hayes is an assistant coach in all three sports, and both parents routinely juggle their schedule in order to be on hand to support their children in their extra-curricular activities.
"I think being a coach's son helped him," Henson said. "He's been around sports his whole life and he understands what it takes to be successful."
Jared Hayes lists throwing passes to his brother, Paden, among his fondest football memories.
Hayes was among team leaders in nearly every statistical category this season, leading the Redskins to their first-ever state baseball tournament. He batted .447 with 33 RBI, posted a .515 on-base percentage and notched a team-high 16 doubles. On the hill, his 1.97 ERA led all regular pitchers, and his gaudy strike-outs-to-walks ratio (84 to 18) was a testament to his pitch command.
He was a go-to player in all three sports, and football coach John Caraway said he has many attributes other than just athletic ability.
"He has knowledge well beyond his years," Caraway said. "He does things to make the people around him better, and his character and competitiveness kind of rub off on his teammates."
Hayes was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Redskins, leading the team in rushing and passing and finishing among the team leaders in all defensive statistics last season.
As a guard in basketball, he was the focal point of the offense, and again, among team leaders in all stat categories. Basketball coach Taylor Wiebener said there was a reason most of the offensive plays ran through Hayes.
"He was a good shooter, good passer, good ball handler — you name it," Wiebener said. "With the ball in his hands, we were difficult for other teams to guard."
All three teams posted winning records this year and did well in the playoffs. That fact is more important to the unselfish Hayes than individual honors.
"Really, the whole year was good," he said. "We were pretty good in all three sports, so that was really fun."
'If he can do it ...'
There's another element to Hayes that coaches feel can continue to have an impact long after he's gone: his value as an example to younger players.
Athletic Director Brian Brister said Hayes is the type of athlete, and the type of person, he would hold up to his own kids as an example.
"He does things the right way," Brister said. "I think part of it is that he's a good Christian kid. You know when you're right with God, a lot of the other things just fall into place."
Hayes is not shy about talking about his faith, which he believes helps him not only in sports, but in life.
"I think it plays a big role," Hayes said. "When you give God the glory, you feel like you can do anything. He gives you strength when you get down, or when you need to build people up if they get down."
Caraway agreed that having an undersized athlete make all-state through hard work and persistence shows others what they can accomplish.
"I think young people, when they see how dedicated he was, and then to see the results, then they think, 'I can do that, too,'" Caraway said. "Whether it's football, basketball, choir — it doesn't matter. Whatever he does, he's going to do his best, and I think if the younger ones can follow that example, they have a chance to be very successful."
Hayes himself is hopeful that future athletes will feel they can follow his lead.
"What would I tell them? I'd say, 'Whatever your goal is, you can achieve it,'" he said. "Size doesn't matter. Just keep putting in the effort and working as hard as you can, and eventually, the results will show it."