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Glory Hayes
Forsyth man recalls career in coaching
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Bob Hayes shows a card that Good Shepherd Place residents gave him. - photo by Jim Dean
In his nearly 40 years of work on the Purdue University-Calumet campus, Bob Hayes wasn’t short on responsibilities.

“I was athletic director, teacher, coach — and that’s about it,” he said, as if that wasn’t enough.

Actually there was more, as Hayes served as district statistician for 21 colleges and universities in Indiana as well.

That job alone resulted in many Saturdays spent laboring from 7 a.m. to midnight, as he worked the phones to get results from around the state, compile them and send them out by mail.

Now 88 and spending his twilight years at the Good Shepherd Place senior apartment community, Hayes recently saw his years of dedication to his school honored. On Nov. 7, he was one of five inductees into the PUC Athletic Hall of Fame.

According to the university Web site, Hayes was involved with PUC sports from 1952-89. During that time, he coached baseball and boys basketball, taught, headed up the athletic department and kept stats.

“It kept me busy,” he said with a laugh.

PUC is a regional campus in the Purdue University system. Located in Hammond, Ind., the school’s athletic teams compete in the NAIA.

Bob Bunnell is the current athletic director for the university, as well as assistant vice chancellor.

He says that even today, Hayes’ legacy casts a long shadow over the campus.

“He’s really considered kind of like the godfather ... of athletics here,” Bunnell said.

“Had he not taken the approach to begin intercollegiate competitive sports here, I don’t know if we would have had them. I assume at some point we would have, but somebody’s got to start it and he’s the guy who started it here.”

Hayes’ name was immortalized on campus long before this month’s hall of fame induction. For over a decade, PUC has featured the Bob Hayes Athletic Alumni Award, annually given to an outstanding former member of the school’s athletics program.

After flying to Chicago and getting a ride to Hammond, Hayes stole the show during the ceremony.

During the 50-year reunion of one of Hayes’ former basketball teams, Bunnell said the old coach grabbed the microphone and got a big laugh by telling the crowd all the players looked heavier than he remembered.

“It was cute in a way because he spans several generations, and to see him standing in front of several hundred people in our gymnasium was a riot,” Bunnell said.

That spark of feistiness is the remaining echo of an aggressive coaching temperament, one that got Hayes in trouble a few times, to hear him tell it.

He swears he got hit with seven technical fouls in a game once.

“We were playing this game and my guy rebounded, went down the floor and made the basket. He got called for a charge and he’s the only one down there,” Hayes recalled.

“So I finally told the official, I said, ‘You stay out of my huddle and you tell your bald-headed friend the same thing.’ That cost me. ... Bobby Knight didn’t have anything on me,” he said with a chuckle, referring to the former basketball coach whose temper became as legendary in Indiana as his coaching skills.

But Hayes had his soft side too. He said the school’s administrators could never figure out why the athletic department spent so much money on baseballs.

“I would take ’em and then have the kids find a little boy or girl ... and give ’em a baseball, sign it and give it to ’em. I never told [the school],” he said.

He described the time his best players were taking finals, so he pulled guys out of the bleachers at a game and made them suit up and play. One of them ended up playing four years, he said.

Hayes said his teams would play anybody anywhere, and traveled as far as Miami and California on some occasions.

The trip back to his old campus was nice, but things had changed.

Hayes said he coached in elementary school gymnasiums “with a furnace in each corner” at the front of his career. These days, the old athletic buildings he worked in have been replaced with apartments.

Change always comes, but the campus in Hammond is seeing a lot of it.

Bunnell said the PUC athletic program is undergoing an aggressive expansion in the next four years, going from two sports to 12, decades after Hayes was responsible for bringing sports to the campus.

Hayes moved to Forsyth County five years ago while his son lived in the area. His children are spread out now. The son has relocated to Oklahoma City and a daughter lives in Salt Lake City.

But Hayes says he’s content to stay put. He spends his time playing games, attending birthday parties and serving on the social committee at Good Shepherd Place.

He says that good company is never hard to find.

“Five men and 40 women, that’s pretty good odds,” he said with a grin.

But while time may have caught up with him, Hayes insists he still has some of the old form. His players used to challenge him to free throw shooting contests, and he says he would still be up to the challenge.

“Oh, I probably could make ’em, shooting ’em the old way,” he said, moving his arms in the classic underhand shooting motion.

Hayes has been invited back to the PUC campus for a golf outing next summer. He says he’ll be there — mainly for the free food.

What he misses most about his coaching days is “the kids,” he said, describing men who are well into middle age or beyond now.

“It was fun while it lasted,” he said.

The content smile on his face tells you those days meant a lot to him.

And the plaques and awards in his name in a place more than 700 miles away tell you he meant a lot to those days too.