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Coach has earned, deserves support
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Dear Editor,

On behalf of a group of concerned citizens, we would like to express our opinion and concern in the matter of Coach Nate Hayes.  

We are all citizens of this county with a vested interest in this case. We are parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters of the students of Effingham schools. Please be clear that we do not advocate abuse in any way toward children. For us, our children are our most precious assets, and so are our educators.  

Our concern is that Coach Hayes has been suspended from his duty as an educator because of one student’s accusations, which have not been substantiated.

As you may know, Coach Hayes grew up in Georgia. Upon graduating from high school, he received a full scholarship from Ottawa University in Kansas and later transferred back to Georgia, where he earned another full scholarship from Georgia Southern under the direction of Coach Erk Russell. After graduating in 1986, he began his teaching career.  

During his 22-year tenure, he has taught driver’s ed and physical education as well as coached football, basketball and track. Of those 22 years, Coach Hayes has been at Effingham County High School for the past 15 years with not one disciplinary action taken against him. Not one.  

This man exemplifies himself not only as a professional educator but also as a devoted husband and father. He is an active churchgoer and is admired by his family and friends.  As concerned citizens, we are appalled at the treatment that has been rendered to him. Why is it that no one has spoken of his accomplishments and commitment to education?  

As head coach for the Lady Rebels, Coach Hayes has gone above and beyond his general responsibilities to assist his students in succeeding. This student has been no exception.  It wasn’t long ago that, at the request of the student’s mother, Coach Hayes accompanied the school resource officer to this student’s home to get her out of bed to attend school.  In addition, Coach Hayes has spoken to teachers on behalf of this student and other players to help them maintain eligibility through attendance, grades and discipline.  

Other efforts displayed by Coach Hayes have been his assurance to faculty and parents that our students would be safe and comfortable on trips away from home. He has motivated his players with trips to malls and movies and encouraged them by feeding them home-cooked chili for scoring 60 or more points in a game. In addition, he has supported them financially by making sure that the students had money on out-of-town trips.

He showed his appreciation of their hard work by taking them to the Masato Japanese restaurant in Savannah every Christmas holiday for an end-of-year gathering and bought them monogrammed towels with his own personal money.

If that’s not enough, he once drove a player to Jacksonville to tryout for a college basketball team, and the player was offered a scholarship. Two other players were also assisted in obtaining college basketball scholarships.

As mentioned earlier, Coach Hayes is a father himself. He is not the type of person that will abuse anyone’s child. As an educator, he is in the business of educating kids and helping them to succeed.

Perhaps this mother should remember the positive things that the coach has done for her child as well as the message that she is sending to her child. As concerned citizens, we support coach Nate Hayes wholeheartedly, without reservation.

Ann Hatfield
Concerned Citizens of Effingham