Staff Photo: Brandon Brigman. Vince Hayes has taught at Duluth High School the last nine years, including the last three as the girls soccer head coach.
Vince Hayes, 31, has taught at Duluth High School the last nine years, including the last three as the Wildcats' head girls soccer coach. The 1997 Dacula grad teaches AP World History and the mandatory tutoring program. A 2001 grad of the University of Georgia, Hayes has a degree in education.
In this latest installment of "Getting to know ...," Hayes talks to staff writer Brandon Brigman about the Tavani Soccer Camp, the World Cup and breaking the news that his wife Kristina is pregnant.
BB: So tell me about the Tavani Camp that you are involved in with Duluth boys coach Gregg Tavani.
VH: I can't say enough about it. I've done it for eight years and I haven't missed a camp yet, that just lets you know how much I believe in it. It's an affordable camp, but at the same time it has really good, motivating coaches that not only convey the tactical needs that you need as a player, but also the intangible, the passion for the game, the fun. Gregg can show you the e-mails, but there are kids that said 'Oh, we had a so-so season and were thinking about giving up soccer,' but did the camp and now they are fired up. Any camp in a week that can do that with a kid is doing a good job. If we would have had camps doing that 10, 20 years ago then who knows where Georgia would be in terms of soccer.
BB: How much does this camp help the Duluth soccer program?
VH: Well, Gregg has been really smart about things and you can't just be about Duluth, it has to be about something bigger. Obviously, being in the Duluth community we help all kinds of kids. Kids who won the state championship with Collins Hill have been to our camps years after years. Kids that play at Peachtree Ridge or North Gwinnett, Norcross, all over, really it's for the community first and then if it helps us out then great.
BB: Besides soccer camps, what else have you been doing this summer?
VH: I've been helping out kids trying to help them pass the graduation test. I was flown out to Colorado to do out the AP summer reading where I graded the tests. There was only about 300 or 400 teachers in the nation that were invited to do that. I'm going next week to the ODP region camp. We're bringing my Olympic Development group on the road to be selected for the national teams.
BB: You haven't had time to take any vacations or anything?
VH: My vacation is my life. Every day is a vacation for me.
BB: I thought teachers were supposed to hang out at the pool during the summer.
VH: Yeah, not this teacher. I'll send my wife on a vacation and I'll go do some work. You have a very short time in this life to live, you've got to do the most with it.
BB: So have you done anything fun this summer? Check out some movies or something?
VH: I play a lot. That hour is my vacation right there.
BB: So you still play a lot of soccer now?
VH: Yeah, I play a lot. I play in various different men's leagues. Because coaching is my career, I've had to take a step back from high level competitive soccer. An injury could be very costly, so I play in a lot of men's leagues at the Silverbacks, in Roswell, indoor. My World Cup is well over.
BB: How do you compare now from when you played in high school?
VH: It's amazing. The renaissance that has occurred. Not only in Gwinnett County, but all over Georgia. If I would have had a coach like Gregg Tavani when I was growing up, I could be on the U.S. team playing in the World Cup.
BB: Have you been watching the World Cup?
VH: Oh yeah, every game. That is one advantage to being a teacher. I will tell you that.
BB: Have you missed any of the games?
VH: Um, the ones I've missed I've DVRed and if they are a snoozer I'll just watch the first half and take a nap. I've been on the edge of my seat for a lot of the games.
BB: So who do you like in the finals on Sunday -- Spain or Netherlands?
VH: Netherlands, it's got to be Netherlands. Everyone is going to rip me for not saying Spain. You know the Netherlands has gotten to the finals two times before or more and haven't won it, they are this dark horse. Everyone from Day 1 has said Spain is going to win it and they've got this studly team, but here's the Netherlands getting the job done and doing it with style, outworking people. I love teams like that, that's Duluth. You've got some really talented players and then you got some that work hard and want it with all their heart versus teams that have 25 stars, so you have to root those guys on.
BB: Will soccer ever get that big in the U.S. like it is in South America or Europe?
VH: Well it is. It's the largest youth sport. The trick is now take those youth and keep them moving forward. I think in this past generation we've seen the MLS grow and become a successful franchise. In the next decade that's going to continue to work. In this past decade we've seen American players continue to go overseas and play for big budget teams and get even better, so we're on the path. It's an elongated time scale. Soccer is never going to become the national pastime, but it can and will become a major pastime.
BB: What did you do for the Fourth of July?
VH: Spent time with my family. My in-laws have a pool and we brought all the dogs out and all the family, made the baby announcement, so everyone was pretty happy about that.
BB: That must have been shocking. What did everyone say?
VH: They were very excited for us and they knew I was looking forward to being a dad.
BB: Do you know if you're having a boy or girl yet?
VH: We're keeping it a secret. We're not knowing, but I'm sure it's a boy. Absolutely certain, I know without a doubt.
BB: Will he come out with a soccer ball?
VH: You know what, I played every sport growing up and we've already had the talk. My wife being a Division I volleyball player, so whatever sport they want that's fine with us, as long as they play sports. But I wouldn't mind if they played soccer.
BB: Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher and coach?
VH: You know, the irony is I have eight teachers in my family, it's like a family profession. I was the one kid my parents said 'You're not allowed to be a teacher.' I went to school and they are like 'You're going to be a doctor.' I was like I don't know if I want to be a doctor. They were like 'You're going to be a lawyer.' So teaching was the one profession that was kind of denied by me, but when I went to college and from experiences I had being a leader and working with people, I found I enjoyed going to study hall and helping my classmates pass their tests than I did the courses I was taking. I just kind of realized that teaching is a calling, it's something you're meant to do. There's no paycheck bigger than a kid graduating from high school or a kid going to play a college sport because of your efforts. That's the kind of stuff that keeps you motivated.
BB: Did either of your parents teach you growing up?
VH: My mother taught me when I was in middle school and my dad was the principal at the high school when I was a little kid. I had a pretty rough childhood, my dad being the principal and my mom being the meanest teacher. I didn't get any breaks.
BB: Is it too soon to start thinking about the high school soccer season?
VH: Never. I started thinking about the season the day after our season was over. We come from a region where the two state finalists were from our region, so without a doubt we have the toughest region in the state. I mean lets be honest. So we got our work cut out for us. Being Duluth and who we are, we've got to do everything in our power.
BB: How long do you see yourself at Duluth?
VH: I've really made a home here. I made that decision in the last couple of years. I really enjoy Duluth High School. They have a great bunch of kids, wonderful teachers. Duluth is like the best kept secret in the county. If you look at the test scores, we're like one or two in every test category educationally. Our soccer booster club is amazing and we have a lot of support for soccer in the school. At this school, soccer is a big time thing. I see myself here as long as they'll have me.