“Steve’s a remarkable man and a phenomenal person,” Flaherty said. “The kids enjoy playing for him. His life skills approach is very strong. He’s fun. He’s tough when he has to be.”
Many of Hayden’s former assistants will attend the induction ceremony, including Chris Perry, who has been on the Pentucket football staff since 1985. Perry and Hayden are like-minded in their general disinterest for attention or self-promotion.
“Steve’s one of those guys who gets up and goes to work every day,” Perry said. “He keeps banging away at it. What helps with Steve is he stresses fundamentals, nothing fancy. It’s high school football. He teaches blocking and tackling. He’s enthusiastic. He goes hard every day, and he does a lot of stuff in the weight room during the offseason. Things like that make a big difference.”
The Hall of Fame induction attendee with the longest commute will be former Pentucket player and assistant coach Justin Bartholomew. The Chapel Hill, N.C., resident will fly in Sunday morning and return to Chapel Hill first thing Monday. The 1994 Pentucket graduate served as an assistant coach under Hayden while he was a teacher at the school in 1998 and 1999. Bartholomew is now the principal of a school in Chapel Hill.
“For me, (Hayden) has always been a father figure,” Bartholomew said. “He’s the perfect role model. He knew how far good character could take you. He believed that, at the end of the day, you might not have money or fancy things, but you have your integrity and character.”
Bartholomew credits Hayden for having a fair approach to all players, regardless of their talent level. He remembers that when a player had a disciplinary issue, Hayden was able to cause a player to feel remorse with a single glance.