Mark Hayward, the longtime Immanuel High School teacher and coach who used a strong faith in God to empower his students toward success, died Sunday evening after a lengthy battle with cancer.
He was 65, having celebrated his birthday just five days before his death.
Mr. Hayward taught for 41 years, with 38 years at his alma mater, Immanuel, where he also coached one of the best stretches of volleyball and boys tennis in school history.
“He was a good coach because he was a good teacher and he knew how to inspire,” said former Immanuel athletic director Don Knaak. “He cared deeply about his God and the kids he worked with. He never wavered on his spiritual convictions and work ethic.”
Mr. Hayward graduated from Immanuel in 1970 and Wheaton College in Illinois in 1974. He began his coaching career as an Immanuel boys basketball assistant. Then he took over the school’s girls volleyball program.
From 1981 to 1994, Hayward guided the Eagles to eight Central Section championships (’81, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94), according to section historian Bob Barnett. Then he took a five-year break from coaching to spend time with his family.
When sons Kent and Kevin started to play tennis at Immanuel, Mr. Hayward returned to coaching and spent a year as an assistant with the boys tennis team before becoming the head coach for 10 years.
During his run as tennis coach, Immanuel won six section titles, including his first with Kent as a senior and Kevin as a sophomore on the team.
“It will always be one of my more special memories – being on the court with my dad as the coach, my brother (as) the No. 1 singles player and I got to win the last match that clinched the championship,” said Kent Hayward, who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a teacher in Southern California. “The three of us joined in for our embrace.”
Mr. Hayward eventually gave up coaching but continued to teach, as recently as last spring, when a tumor he had been fighting off for 10 years reappeared.
“What I got out of his coaching and what I’ve read that many other students got from my dad was his leadership, patience, and teaching much more than the game – but about life and what it meant to follow the Lord,” said Kent, referring to a Facebook group page dedicated in Mr. Hayward’s honor.
“I could talk nonstop about Dad,” Kent added. “He was one of a kind.”
Mr. Hayward is survived by his wife, Gail; sons Kent and Kevin; Kevin’s wife, Laine; and three grandchildren.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Immanuel Chapel.
MARK HAYWARD SERVICE
- Tuesday: 10 a.m. at Immanuel High’s chapel