EWU’s Hayford to coach 400th game
Coaches made a lasting impression on a young Jim Hayford, and he’s trying to do the same for others.
“I wanted to get into coaching because the people who had the greatest influence on me were coaches,” said Hayford, who heads the men’s basketball program at Eastern Washington.
“And I wanted a job that was fun, and it looked like a lot of fun.”
After more than 20 years, it still is. Tonight’s game at Idaho State will be his 400th as a collegiate head coach, Hayford is 278-121 in 13-plus seasons as a head coach, including a 24-37 mark in two years at Eastern. He was 217-57 in 10 seasons at Whitworth from 2001 to 2011, and before that was 37-27 in two seasons at the University of Sioux Falls.
“I just really like the energy with the young people and at the same time connecting with the greater community,” Hayford said. “It’s a job that lets you make a difference in people’s lives and get engaged with a lot of different people.”
Hayford competed in soccer, basketball and track in high school in Walnut Creek, Calif., then coached high school soccer and basketball in the Bay Area even while playing collegiate soccer at Azusa Pacific.
“That’s how I found my niche,” said Hayford, who for nine years was the top assistant at Azusa Pacific before getting his first head coaching job at NAIA Sioux Falls in 1999.
Two years later, Hayford and his wife, Robin, were in Seattle when his daughter, Jayme, was diagnosed with leukemia. During that time he received an offer from Whitworth, which also meant proximity to good medical care for Jayme.
“I watched a lot of game film and recruiting film in a hospital room or hospital hallway,” said Hayford, who coached the Pirates to eight 20-win seasons and six appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament
Hayford said he plans to coach many more years.
“But at the end,” Hayford said, “I want my wealth to be in relationships more than anything else.”
Even after losing its last two home games last week, the Eagles still have an outside chance to make the Big Sky tournament for the third straight season.
First, both Sacramento State and Northern Arizona must lose their final two games in Montana, and the Eagles must win their final two games, including the regular-season finale at red-hot Weber State.
That would force a three-way tie for seventh-place, with all three teams going 2-2 against each other; therefore, the seventh and final berth would go to Eastern by virtue of its win over Weber State.