The untold heart

I have known coach Tom Haynes for almost 20 years. Sounds funny saying that, but it’s true. I followed his Cochranton Cardinals from dismal seasons to nearly winning the district championship back to rebuilding years. Typical small town high school sports stuff.

Coach Haynes is a good guy. I witnessed something years ago when his oldest daughter was just a wee thing on the sidelines helping dad out. (She is an adult now.) This one game in the early to mid 2000s, his daughter and her friend were on the sidelines helping as water kids for the team. A play came toward the side lines and a football player ended up colliding with these young kids knocking them down and scaring them to death.

No one was hurt, just scared.

The coach, Tom Haynes, knowing that his sideline was his responsibility immediately took the young crying girl, his daughter’s friend, into his arms and comforted her. His daughter was fine and close by. I was a few feet away and for some reason, dumbfounded, I found myself watching it but not making a picture. His eyes were closed and he embraced her with all the love a human can possibly give. She was crying and scared but I can’t help but think his embrace made her feel safe.

I will never forget that. He missed the entire next play. His concern that this girl, a friend of his daughter, was OK just blew me away.

That is a human being!

I want to put that in all caps!



I have told that story before, but I felt I wanted to tell it again after today walking up to this man on his practice field to say hello and give my condolences!

He lost a very important person to him recently in a tragic accident. Tyler Buchan died a little more than a week ago from a fall. He was a junior high coach in the Franklin system and someone coach Haynes took under his wing. After I shook his hand today and asked him if the team had anything planned in remembrance for Tyler, he said there is planning underway for the first game and his players want to acknowledge this loss. His face changed in front of me. This was still too new. It still hurts.

He told me each day has been hard for him since Tyler’s death. I told him I didn’t want to disrupt his practice and we shook hands. I then watched him take his team to the next drill, stopping what he was saying twice because he was choked up and wiping away what I’m guessing was a tear. I didn’t ask.

Folks don’t realize what these coaches do for their kids and fellow coaches. I’ve met quality people in all walks of life and I have to say that many coaches like Tom Haynes have made an impact on me on how I relate to good people using what they know to help others.  Franklin High School and the Cochranton community lost someone this summer who could’ve been the next person to help countless other young people like Tom Haynes has. My guess is that in his short time on this earth, he did help many and, as a junior high coach, I hope those kids will honor him by growing in the example he and his coach laid out for them.

Knowing coach Haynes now for almost 20 years and listening to how he remembers his kids from years past, like most good coaches do, I’m sure if we talk about this year that his team is about to play, even if they win the district championship, his first memory will be for the young man who is no longer here.