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Hayden leaving St. Aloysius for Pearl High

[6/19/04]After four years at St. Aloysius, Paul Hayden resigned as boys and girls basketball coach.

Hayden will take over as the freshman boys basketball coach at Pearl High and also will be an assistant coach for the varsity squad.

“It was definitely a tough decision, but I decided it was one that bettered my career a little bit in a sense of a bigger school. I’m also a little closer to home,” said Hayden, who lives in Brandon and made the 106-mile roundtrip to Vicksburg each day.

In addition to the opportunity to coach at a higher level, Hayden was thinking of his family’s financial future.

“It was simply a matter of getting to better himself with a bigger school, better situation,” St. Al athletic director Jim Taylor said. “It’s no secret public schools tend to have bigger paychecks and better retirement than parochial schools.”

St. Aloysius, meanwhile, must find a new basketball coach for both the varsity and JV levels, as well as a cross country coach another position Hayden held at the Catholic school.

Taylor said Hayden had been pursuing a move for about two months and finally turned in his resignation earlier this week.

“It’s difficult here to be able to hire men teachers,” Taylor said, adding that supply and demand steers male teachers to more lucrative teaching positions. “The loss of a man teacher and a coach of any sorts is pretty serious.”

To fill the position, Taylor placed an announcement on the Mississippi High School Athletic Association’s list of job openings.

“We haven’t had any luck so far, but something will work out,” he said.

The St. Aloysius boys finished 10-16 (8-4 Region 7-1A) this season and lost 38-34 to archrival Cathedral in the opening game of the region tournament in Natchez.

After a disappointing 1-6 start, the Flashes ended the season a respectable 9-10. St. Al featured five senior starters, led by The Vicksburg Post’s Player of the Year, Kyle Richards.

The girls team endured a similar fate this year. The Lady Flashes ended at 11-15 (5-7), also losing in the first round of the region tournament, 36-33 to Enterprise Lincoln.

In 2003, Hayden led the upstart Flashes to the region tournament championship game before falling 85-52 to West Lincoln.

In 2002, the Lady Flashes lost to Bogue Chitto in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs, narrowly missing a chance to compete in the South State championship.

“We don’t have a star-studded tradition in basketball around here, but (Hayden) made the playoffs and did very well,” Taylor said. “We were competitive every year.”

Hayden came to St. Aloysius in 2000 after coaching at Centreville Academy for a year. In 1998-99, he was an assistant coach at Belhaven College.

“There’s probably never an easy time to leave,” Hayden said. “I’m going to miss coaching some of the great players we had.”