CHHS goalie attributes success to leadership, teamwork and coach

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Preston Hayden couldn't be any more well-rounded than the soccer ball he blocks as goalie for the Charles Henderson High School soccer team.

The CHHS senior is an athlete, an academia, a family man and a community volunteer.

Hayden has played soccer since the sixth grade and when CHHS adopted the sport three years ago, he was first in line.

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That first year, the team missed playoffs by just one game.

For a first-year team, that's not a bad finish.

Hayden attributes the team's success to great &uot;leadership, teamwork and an awesome coach, Adam Johnson.&uot;

The first year, the team lost one of its games 10-0, but it could have been worse.

Hayden blocked 60 out of the opponent's 70 shots.

In his last game as a high school player, CHHS took Carroll High School in Ozark into overtime and then to a penalty shootout.

Hayden saved all five of Carroll's penalty kicks.

CHHS ended up winning 2--1.

Those saves contributed to Hayden's beating the state record by 300 saves.

His record is unofficial, however, because the school did not keep official stat books.

Not only is Hayden handy with the ball, he's handy with the playbook as well.

He has coached and officiated soccer and has seen the game from all angles.

But soccer isn't the only thing Hayden does well.

This past year, Hayden played the trombone in the All State White Band, the second-highest band in the state.

He also won his school's John Philip Sousa award for the 2002-2003 school year.

The award is the highest band award and is given to the senior who demonstrates outstanding leadership and musical abilities.

&uot;People at school would recognize me by band or soccer,&uot; he said.

&uot;They say, 'He's the band guy,' or 'He's the soccer guy.'&uot;

When he isn't busy being the &uot;band guy&uot; or the &uot;soccer guy,&uot; Hayden coaches little league, tutors struggling Algebra students and teaches Spanish to second-graders at Troy Elementary.

Coaching and tutoring, as well as a handful of teacher inspirations, prompted Hayden to major in secondary education at Troy State University this fall.

"There are five teachers who have influenced me," he said.

"Marna Barnett, who teaches physics and chemistry; Pamela Merkel, who teaches Spanish; Michael Thomas, who is my band teacher; my fifth-grade teacher Ramine Ettefagh; and my soccer coach Adam Johnson."

Ettefagh is the father of Hayden's best friend, Keivah, and they moved to North Carolina a few years ago.

Hayden hopes he can travel up to see them after graduation.

Johnson, his coach, has been a big inspiration.

Johnson started coaching the CHHS soccer team when he was 19 years old, and looking back Hayden is impressed with the way he pulled the team together.

But Johnson won't be able to coach next year because he starts his internship--in secondary education.

"I want to follow in his footsteps," Hayden said.

And added he wouldn't mind in the least if he was able to coach the CHHS soccer team.

He is already looking forward to coaching rec league soccer this fall.

With all his talent, Hayden could easily get an academic, band or soccer scholarship anywhere, and don't think he hasn't thought about that.

But Hayden is something of a family man.

"I don't know if I'm ready to go yet," he said.

"Besides, I figure if I'm going to mess up, I'd rather mess up at home."

So, he chose a band scholarship at TSU and a little league soccer team.