I couldn’t help but notice Bill Hayes in the Bowman Gray Stadium press box on Saturday afternoon trying to be social in the chancellor’s suite. He did the social thing for sure, but he also kept an eye on the game and was squirming like a lot of WSSU fans when the Rams trailed 24-0 late in the third quarter.
The Rams wound up losing 31-13 but Hayes, the legendary former football coach of the Rams and the Aggies, is a football guy first. He also is a former athletics director at N.C. Central, Florida A&M and WSSU, where he retired a few years ago.
Hayes, 74, spends most of his days playing golf and still works out a lot at the Fulton YMCA. He’s also serious about raising money so kids can go to college.
On Friday, with help from Mel Blount, the former Pittsburgh Steeler who was on four winning Super Bowl teams, Hayes will be hosting a golf tournament at Winston Lake starting at 9 a.m.
His tournament, which is called “Swing for Scholarships” will help raise money for college scholarships for those who attend Galilee Missionary Baptist Church.
“Mel coming to the tournament is big because he’s a name folks recognize,” Hayes said about Blount, who attended Southern University. “The bottom line is we need money so kids can get to college because that’s where there is opportunity. So I’m hoping we can get a big turnout.”
For more information on the tournament call 336-251-5549.
One of the things folks forget about Hayes is he and his wife, Carolyn, never left Winston-Salem during his long coaching career that started right here in Winston-Salem.
Dan Collins, who retired from the Journal last month after turning a young 65, got to sit down with Hayes earlier this summer. As a parting gift to me Dan sent me this question and answer transcript with Hayes, who is a legendary figure in Winston-Salem and in college football.
Here’s the transcript and I’m pretty sure Dan is enjoying the heck out of his retirement. One of the best parts of this is the story about how Big House Gaines actually hired Hayes away from Wake Forest.
DC: So what was the sporting community like when you got here in 1976 to be the football coach at Paisley High School Bill?
BH: Winston-Salem always had great talent in athletics, from the great team at Atkins High School in the early 60s with Carl Eller and J.B. Sharp and Bobby Moorman and James Price and Robert Price. I knew all those guys because I played college football with them. A lot of them were on my team at N.C. Central. So I kind of knew a little bit about the history of athletics in Winston-Salem in talking with them in the dormitory at night – the Atkins and Carver rivalry and Anderson and Paisley and Gray and all the great high schools. It was a rich, rich tradition of high school sports. And I was excited about being a part of that. I didn’t know a lot about Paisley because back in that time Atkins and Reynolds were the dominant schools in the Winston-Salem area. But I had an opportunity through William Bryant. Coach Bryant, who is deceased now, saw me play at North Carolina Central and said `Boy I want you to help and come and be a coach on our coaching staff at Paisley High School. So I came up with him and was his assistant coach at Paisley High School along with Coach Otis Hawkins. (He) was the basketball coach and Hawk was also assistant coach in football. I coached as an assistant coach in football, but I was also assistant coach in basketball, and we had a great time.
DC: There was integration, and that’s how you moved to North Forsyth, right?
BH: Yeah, integration (in) 1967, I think it was, and the school system split us up and closed Paisley and sent two hundred kids and me to North Forsyth and send two or three hundred kids to Atkins with another coach and then sent some to Reynolds with another coach. But they split our coaching staff up equally and sent all of us in different directions. I was sent to North, with Colon Nifong, and we had a good run. Coach was a tremendous guy. I could talk about our interactions and meetings and planning sessions and strategy sessions all evening, so you don’t want to go there.
DC: I will ask you what you felt you learned as a young coach in that experience in coaching with Coach Nifong and winning the 1971 state championship with the Vikings of North Forsyth. What do you remember learning in those periods?
BH: Hard work. I remember I used to have dinner on Sunday with my family, and shortly after – two or three in the afternoon – we would go to Coach Nifong’s house and go in his basement. We’d be there to 11 or 12 o’clock at night, strategizing and scheming and putting in new offenses and working on our defense. So we spent a lot of film time and strategy sessions at Coach’s house. The thing that I learned most was how to plan, how to organize, from Coach Nifong – and how to try our best to get the most out of the kids that we had.
DC: Wasn‘t the school system at that time divided and kids would go to a 9-10 school and then go to an 11-12 school?
DC: So that came later?
BH: No, we were 10 through 12 in high school.
DC: Good. And it was also, for people who remember their American history, United States history, that was a time of unrest. Integration did not always go as smooth as we would have liked for it to go. What do you remember about that time, because I understand you were very instrumental on helping smooth over some of the rough edges of that integration Bill.
BH: Well, being the football coach, the assistant football coach, our team was integrated right down the middle. So when the problems started I was right in the middle of it because half of my team was black and the other half was white. I was the coach for everybody. I mean I wasn’t the black coach. I was a football coach who happened to be black. And so I had great relationships with all the kids and I think they trusted me and respected me on both sides. So it was easy for me to be a mediator between the two groups. And boy did I do a lot of work on the job and behind the scenes and in the hallways, just making sure people understand that `All we want to do is get an education and enjoy the school and try to better ourselves and move on and try to get a college education or a good job someplace.’ And once kids understood that and the fear factor was gone -- the thing was they just didn’t know each other and didn’t understand each other; had never interacted with each other. And so that’s what made it difficult. But once we introduced them to one another and did some interacting and practices and classes, then things smoothed out.
DC: And so by ‘71 when you won that state championship you had been a coach for three or four years. At that point you had planned that to be your career, right Bill? You wanted to be a football coach.
BH: Well I always knew I wanted to be a football coach. I wanted to be a football coach when I was in college. I was practicing and calling defenses, since I was the captain of our defense. So I always knew I wanted to coach football. There was never anything other that I wanted to do. But how fast, and which course to take to get to where I wanted to be – and I always thought I wanted to be a head coach in the Big Ten. As a young kid growing up in Durham I saw Notre Dame on TV on (Sunday) morning and that was kind of where I wanted to be, at Michigan and Ohio State and Notre Dame and those kind of places. But, of course, unfortunately for me, it was all segregated then and the odds of me getting to Notre Dame were slim and none. But that still didn’t stop me from putting forth a lot of effort to prepare myself. See I learned something that I always carried with me and tried to instill in my players. Never cheat football. Never cheat the sport that you’re playing. And I just lived that. I mean I just lived by the fact that I was going to give it all I had. And so I moved pretty quickly because I outworked everybody. You know, it was unadulterated hard work. That’s how I was able to move.
DC: So you were aspiring for a football career and you decided you wanted to coach college at the very start?
BH: Well yes, it happened before I thought it would happen. Because I knew I had to go back and get a master’s degree and I also thought I had to work on my PhD. I thought that was the road to coaching in college. One day, all of a sudden, that young lady here at the Journal. . .
DC: Mary Garber.
BH: A huge lady.
DC: A legend.
BH: A legend. I mean, unbeknownst to me, she put my name out there with the coach at Wake Forest. And she told Chuck (Mills) that `If you want a guy who will go hard, and work hard, and a good role model, an up-and-coming shining star in the coaching business, you need to hire this guy.’ And it was so surprising to me because I never knew she was watching me like that. But she was. So I will be forever grateful to Mary Garber for really giving me my start in college coaching.
DC: And Chuck, of course, was Chuck Mills, the Wake Forest football coach at the time.
BH: And Mary got in Chuck’s ear. Chuck was from Utah. He knew nothing about North Carolina or the south, any of that. He had no clue about any of that. Mary got to him and started training him as to who could do what, when and how he should manage things in this area. So he hired me.
DC: You will agree with me on this, I’m absolutely certain Bill. I’ve always thought one of the greatest stories of Winston-Salem history – not just sports, but society and everything – was the wonderful friendship and relationship between Mary Garber – who was of an upper-crust, high-society background, her father was an engineer who came into Winston-Salem in the early 1900s to build the railroad system through here and she lived over in Buena Vista, the upper crust. And her relationship with Big House Gaines over there at Winston-Salem State, the local black school, I thought was the best of us, and this community. And I always thought it was real special. And obviously, for you to get to know Mary, she did not know color, did she?
BH: No, she was like an old shoe. You’d go to work and she’d be sitting in your office and she was kind of unassuming. And she was just matter-of-fact. She had one vision, and that was to write great stories about sports. But you know, along the way she was like a role model. She was like a mother. Because if you’re in coaching you’re going to get beat up some kind of badly trying to get to the game, trying to move through all of the idiosyncrasies of the coach on the job. So sometimes you get real frustrated when you can’t move quite as fast as you would want to. And Mary was always there to listen and be a listening ear and give some advice. She was more than just a reporter. She was like a big sister, or a mother to a lot of us. And of course her and Big House had a great relationship. She would just sit there with Big House and they’d talk back and forth. She was like a sister to him. And then all of rest of us kind of were thrown in the pot and it was all stirred up. It was a great situation, beautiful days and times.
DC: Yessir. I was a lucky man I got to work with Mary Garber. She taught me so much. Now what do you remember from you days as an assistant football coach at Wake Forest?
BH: That’s where I cut my teeth, at Wake Forest. That’s where I learned how to really organize and that’s where I learned how to recruit hard. You see, I was the only black coach on the staff. And believe it or not, we were taught from an early age if you want to get ahead, you had to work twice as hard. So I figured I had to work twice as hard as everybody on the staff. And that was my goal. Get there first. I wanted to do everything first. I want to be at work first. I want to work the hardest. I want to stay there the longest. I want to be the last to leave. You know, I figured I had to do that. And so I moved pretty quickly up the ladder because of my work ethic. Didn’t nobody give me nothing. I was looking for no handouts. All I wanted was an opportunity, and Chuck Mills gave me that opportunity, and I was definitely going to take full advantage of it.
DC: Well we all got to know real fast that you were a man who knows football Bill, with your coaching resume. At what point along the way at Wake Forest did you think of yourself wanting to make that jump from assistant coach to head coach.
BH: I never thought about it. The strange thing for me was I was always full-speed at where I was. The job that I was working on, I thought I was going to be at that job the rest of my life. And that’s the way I approached it. So I never thought while I was at Wake Forest of my next move. As a matter of fact I probably had the best job of any coach of color in the whole region at the time. So I had no reason to be looking for something. But Big House came to practice one day at Wake Forest and I was working my offensive line and, man, I was putting big-time pressure on them, and I guess he kind of liked my authoritative attitude and aggressiveness. So he stopped by and he said `I want you to come over and talk to us. We’re looking for a football coach, and I kind of want you to come and give us some ideas of what we need to be looking for.’ Never said he wanted to try to hire me. So he conned me. Big House conned me. So you know, I went over and there were some people sitting around the table and I didn’t know it was a screening committee or an interviewing committee. He said `Bill, I just want you to talk to these folks here and kind of tell what we need to be doing here to build our football program up.’ In fact I didn’t even wear a tie. I was just sitting there, and we talked. So the lady asked me, she said `Why do you want to be the football coach at Winston-Salem State?’ I said, `I never said that.’ I said `Big House came and asked me to come over here and talk to you all, and out of respect for him, that’s why I came. I never said I wanted to be the head football coach here.’ And so we kept talking for a while, and so then after it was over I went home and never really thought anything about it, two or three days later – in fact this was during the Christmas break, like the 26th of December, 27th – Big House comes by my house and says `Guess what boy,’ – he liked to call people ‘boy.’ I said `what coach?’ He said `You’re our new football coach.’ I said `I’m what?’ Can you believe that. That actually happened.
DC: Yeah, having met and gotten to know coach Gaines, I can believe that story. That’s a beautiful story.
BH: He was a beautiful man.
DC: So were there any second thoughts, or was it full-steam ahead once you accepted the job.
BH: Well actually Dr. (Gene) Hooks hired me (at Wake Forest). You can’t leave Dr. Hooks out, because Chuck wouldn’t have been authorized to hire me without Gene Hooks. So when they offered me the job at Winston-Salem State, Gene Hooks called me in. And he upped the ante. He said `No, we want you to stay here with us, Bill.’ So he gave me some more money and gave me a few more perks and everything. But I just felt those kids (at Winston-Salem State) needed me, you know. Not that the kids at Wake Forest didn’t need me. But I just felt like the kids from Winston-Salem State needed what I had to offer more.
DC: When you got there, what did you see as the first order of business that had to be done at Winston-Salem State to turn Winston-Salem State into a good football program?
BH: Listen, what I saw when I first got here was so massive, that if I had been smart I’d taken a gun out and committed suicide. No, I had to do everything. We had to get the field right. We had to get the locker room straight. We had to get the recruiting budget. I mean it was just a massive encounter. I mean huge. And we had one or two coaches. We didn’t have a full coaching staff.
BH: Yeah, so I’m saying `Wait a minute. What have you gotten yourself into?’ But it was all good, and with God’s grace and mercies and blessings, he kind of showed me the way to put it all together.
DC: By ’77 you won the CIAA championship, right? Didn’t you repeat in ’77 and ’78?
BH: After I was hired we struggled through the first year. We won four games. That second year we went undefeated. By the way we’re going to celebrate that team this fall.
DC: That’s beautiful. What came together, Bill?
BH: Whew. Everything came together. First of all I had to teach football to everybody. I had to coach my coaches first, step-by-step. Then I coached the players. And then I had to teach the coaches how to coach the players. But it was just the absolute most exciting time. The experience was so unbelievable. I used to get to work in the morning about 6:30, 7:00, and leave about 12:30 or one o’clock in the morning. And it seemed like time just flew by. Never looked at my watch. One day Bighouse called me in. He said `Boy, you need to think about a few things.’ I said `What coach?’ He said `You’re working these guys too hard. You’re working your coaches too hard.’ He said `They don’t get to see their families.’ He said `You start early in the morning and they don’t get home until 11, 12, one o’clock at night.’ He said `They don’t feel like you feel about his, Bill. But you don’t understand that.’ So I just learned so much from him, and I didn’t know. I thought the only way to win is to outwork everybody, and cover all your bases and organize, and simply put forth more effort. But then, everybody didn’t feel that way. So Gaines had to teach me that also.
DC: When I got here it was 1978 and you were a dominant force in the CIAA at that time. You were the premier program. And it ran until you left in ’87. You won the CIAA championship in ’87, is that correct? And that was your step off at that point. Why the move to A&T? Obviously it was Division I. Is that the biggest challenge there, the reason for your move?
BH: You know, you’ve got a window of opportunity. I tell coaches and people that will listen. All you’ve got to do is stay there and something wrong is going to happen. Just keep staying and fighting. You’ve got to fight for everything that you get. Nobody is going to come along with a silver spoon and give you this or that. You’ve got to fight for it. And you figure, if you fight for 12 years. . . Now I always figured this, Dan. I don’t know about the newspaper business, but if you go hard at a job, you’re going to make about 10 enemies a year.
DC: At least.
BH: You’re going to make at least 10 enemies a year. Well I had been there 12 years. You can imagine how many people – I know all those that did like me, but God Almighty, can you imagine the ones (when you) are stepping on so many toes to get things done from cutting the grass to getting kids fed to getting money to travel with to getting scholarship money. To build a program, you’re just going to step on a lot of toes. You’re going to make a lot of folks angry. And so I figured you’d better – it’s time to go.
DC: I’ve always heard of the seven-year itch, and your seven-year itch lasted for 12 years, right?
BH: It lasted for 12 years. It did. It lasted for 12 years. But I knew that it was just time to move on.
DC: And then you had great, great success at North Carolina A&T, where you won, I think, three MEAC championship. You won the Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College National Championship. What year was that, ’99, when the Aggies when 11-2. Is that correct?
BH: We had some great teams.
DC: Yes you did.
BH: We won championships, and along the way we had a lot of kids go to the NFL, because we were relentless in recruiting. And we went after the best kids. At Winston-Salem State we sent three, four, five kids to the NFL every year. Now all of them didn’t make it.
DC: Right, but they had a shot.
BH: They had a shot. One time I counted and I had over 200 kids that had a shot at the NFL. So that continued at A&T. We recruited, I mean, extremely hard. With as meager a budget as we had, I worked from New York down to Miami, and out to Detroit and Chicago. And most of those places, we drove. Most of those places, I drove.
DC: A lot of four o’clock in the mornings coming in, right?
BH: A lot of sleeping in the car.
DC: Yes sir.
BH: A lot of sleeping in the car. A lot of taking baths in the train stations, and bus stations. It was extremely hard work. But it was so much fun. It was absolute – it was a blast. I enjoyed every minute of it.
DC: And then that ran its course, like things can do from time to time. And then you made the big jump from coaching into administration and you went back home. Am I remembering right Bill, that you went back home to North Carolina Central?
BH: I went back to my alma mater, North Carolina Central University, where I was a center and a middle linebacker and an All-American. Actually I lived three blocks from campus. And my mother used to go out on the front porch during games. When I was at Winston we played Central. When I was at A&T we played Central. If it was quiet, she knew were winning.
DC: OK, (laughs).
BH: So crowd noise was key. But going back home was a lot of fun. I mean being an A.D., it didn’t take me long to win championships at Central. I think we won five championships my second year – football, basketball, women’s. We always won a lot of championships in women’s sports. This is a crazy thing, Dan, since everybody figured I was all hell-bent for football, I always knew that I had to make sure that there was never a doubt that I cared about our women’s sports.
DC: I understand. You had to convince them, didn’t you?
BH: Through action. I couldn’t say it. I had to demonstrate it. So I would hop on the bus and go with the basketball women’s teams on trips. I’d drive my car and make sure I saw them play. Tennis, volleyball, whatever it was, I was always there. So they never questioned my loyalty to them. And so we won championships in women’s sports at Central, and men football and basketball. So it was great.
DC: What got you down to Tallahassee, Fla., at Florida A&M?
BH: Following my president. James Ammons was my president at Central and Tallahassee was his home. He was a Rattler. I didn’t want to go to Florida A&M. I’m a North Carolina boy. He begged me from March, when he took the job, all the way up until right at Christmas to come to Tallahassee. And so after he was so insistent, and his wife was so insistent that Carolyn and I come to Tallahassee, I said `Well, why not?’ you know. `Why not?’ And I did. I went down to Tallahassee and legendary Jake Gaither – I don’t know if you know much about him or not – but Jake Gaither was a legendary coach and Eddie Robinson (of Grambling). And now I’m in the backyard of all the African-American great coaches and traditional great programs (in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) in Grambling and Southern and Texas Southern and Alcorn – down in the SWAC country. And so boy, it was a load.
DC: How many years at A&M?
BH: Three. We built a 10,000-seat gym while I was there. We called it a teaching gym because half of it was class rooms – which you could flip the class rooms and watch the game. It was quite a feat.
DC: But you were ready to get back to North Carolina when the opportunity presented itself.
BH: I was ready. I was missing my grandkids, missing the kids that I coached. And so I decided `It’s time for me to come home.’
DC: What was Winston-Salem State like in 2009 when you returned to campus after your time away? How much had it changed, Bill? How much was it different from the time you had left Winston-Salem State?
BH: First of all, Dr. (Donald) Reaves was the chancellor then. In fact, he called me down in Tallahassee when I was down there and he said `Bill, would you consider coming back to Winston-Salem State to be the Athletics Director?’ And I said `I don’t think so,’ because I was ready to retire. I thought I was ready to retire. So he said `Well, let me just try to put together some things that would make you want to continue to work awhile.’ And he did. And after we finagled a little bit I decided it would be a good deal to come back. And believe it or not Dan, the thing I wanted to come back the most for (was) to galvanize all my former players.
DC: Good for you.
BH: See, when I was in Florida I had lost contact with all my players, all the guys in the NFL, all the guys around here that’s teaching and coaching. I never saw any of them. So to come back to Winston-Salem State, now I was in a position (where) everybody knew exactly where I was. Anybody who needed to find me or get in touch with me could find me real easily. So that’s what I decided to do, and that’s why it was so easy for me to come back and get things started. It was a mess, because, think about this – I know you never considered this – but when I was at North Carolina Central I took that program from Division II to Division I. They’re Division I now. As soon as I did that, I come back to Winston-Salem State and now I’ve got to take it back from Division I back down to Division II.
DC: Two months before Bill Hayes was hired as A.D. at Winston-Salem State – it was two months, right? – they had announced that they were going to halt the transition from D-II to D-I. You were going to take them back to D-II.
BH: Now I’ve got to go back. I took them up, now I’ve got to take them down. And to get people to understand, you’ve got to literally do that one-on-one, in small meetings and show people facts and figures about how and what it takes to be in Division I. And what are the advantages and disadvantages. So I had done that at Central to go up. Now I’ve got to flip it and do it to come back down at Winston-Salem State. The key thing, I believe, was when I hired Connell (Maynor). I called Connell up and I said `Connell I’m coming back home.’ He and I were together at Winston-Salem State and at A&T. And I said `Do you want to be my football coach?’ And he said `Yeah coach, I’d love it.’ So I said `Well, all right, you’re going to be the football coach, and I’m going to be your boss, and we’re going to do this thing and we’re going to win and blah, blah.’ I mean it hit perfect, because he is as brash and as innovative and aggressive and good-looking. I called him a Pied Piper. So we needed a Pied Piper. You know the Pied Piper with his flute led the people right over that cliff, boom. And Connell had the charisma to blow his flute and people would follow him right over a cliff.
DC: Now Connell Maynor was the coach. Bill had a lot of feathers that had been ruffled that he had to smooth over, so he comes in and has to smooth over a lot of ruffled feathers. But one thing he did was he hired Connell Maynor to be the football coach.
BH: No really, I said to people, I said `Listen, I’m sorry I don’t have time to worry about this, that and the other. If you want to go with me, I’m going straight to the top. I’m taking this program straight to the top. Now if you want to get on the bandwagon, and go straight to the top, come on let’s go. If you don’t, you’re just going to wallow in that down there because I ain’t got time for that.’ And it worked. It worked really beautifully.
DC: You had quite a run there as A.D. back at Winston-Salem State.
BH: We won 14 championships in four years.
DC: Fourteen championships.
BH: Raised a lot of money. I implemented a fund-raising program, a Thousand Horns program, trying to find a thousand people that would give at least a thousand dollars back to the program. You need money. So when we got that going, people started buying in and people started giving money. And people started following the Pied Piper because we’re winning football games and winning basketball games, everybody is working hard. Everybody’s trying to be first. It was a beautiful time.
DC: What I know about you also Bill, as a coach and also as an administrator, is you took the classroom `studies first’ attitude about the approach to teach these people when you’ve got them in your school, to make sure they understand the value of the education they were getting.
BH: And then we had head coaches meetings, bring all the head coaches into a room together, and then we would talk about what the objectives were. `What do you need from me, as your A.D? What do you need me to do? Tell me? Money is never going to be an issue, because I’m going to raise the money. So don’t you tell me you can’t do something because of money, because I don’t want to hear that. You tell me you want to win championships and how you want to win championships, and we’re going to figure out how we can get the money so you can win the championships.’ And that’s the way we approached it.
DC: You parted ways from Winston-Salem State and `retired’ in 2015. What’s Bill Hayes’ life these days, Coach Hayes?
BH: It’s fun. I play a lot of golf, play a lot of golf. I help a lot of kids.
DC: Good for you.
BH: I raise a lot of money. I have a scholarship golf tournament every year.
DC: What’s the name of the event?
BH: It’s in the Bill Hayes Foundation, an annual golf tournament. I work hard at my church believe it or not.
DC: And the name of your church?
BH: Galilee Missionary Baptist Church. They’ve even got me going to church at 12 o’clock on Wednesday. Can you believe that?
DC: Barely. I can barely believe that Bill. Good for you.
BH: We’ve got a great church and a great congregation and a super young pastor (Dr. Nathan Edward) Scovens, my leader.
DC: I’ll ask you one more and I’ll wrap it up, and once again I thank you so much for this time. We’ve talked about the Winston-Salem Sports community and what you’ve seen in the time you’ve been here with the changes. Where do you think it’s going? What do you think it will look like in maybe 10 years from now, Bill?
BH: I hope that we will understand what it really takes to be a good athletics program. It takes money. So somebody’s got to – the alumni and the people that love and cherish Winston-Salem State and Wake Forest – are going to have to spend more money. With Wake Forest being the smallest of the schools in the ACC, it’s going to take more money and more facilities to keep up with the schools that they’ve got to compete against. And the same thing applies to Winston-Salem State. To compete with the schools that they’ve got to compete with, they’ve got to have better facilities and more money and better coaches. When the recruits come in, you’ve got to make an impression on them with things, things, facilities, classrooms, study programs. I mean the whole ball of wax. They’re visual. Kids today are visual. And they’ve got to see it right in front of them. So we’ve got to do a better job at that if we’re going to stay on top. And I think we can.