GOODY, Ky – Belfry football’s Head Coach, Phillip Haywood, has been nominated The Courier-Journal’s 2015 Coach of the Year for the fourth time over his 41 years of coaching.
The 2015 Belfry Pirates finished off an amazing season by clinching the Class 3A State Championship. Belfry gave Lexington Catholic a thrashing of 43-0 in the championship game. The Pirates won the state championship for the third time in a row and made their sixth championship appearance in a row. Now that the confetti has settled and the trophy has been housed, the awards and recognition begin to roll in.
Several of the Pirate football players have been recognized on various levels through the Kentucky high school sporting community for their playing performance throughout the season. Haywood passed a few prolific milestones this season to put the historical touches on the binding that will seal this season up in the record books. In addition to leading the Pirates to their fifth state championship in school history, Haywood also recorded his 400th victory as a head coach; making him the winningest coach in Kentucky High school coaching history. Now, he can place one more award on his mantle. However, Haywood doesn’t feel the award belongs to him alone.
“It’s always an honor to receive an award like this one. Any time you are given an award where you were nominated by your peers it’s very humbling. There are so many great coaches out there, sometimes if you are fortunate enough to have great players and great staffs then you are blessed to receive awards like this. But, there are a lot of great coaches out there who do a fantastic job who are not as blessed to be surrounded by such a great program and football community. I always think of all the other coaches who are just as deserving as me for the award and that is what really humbles me about receiving this award,” said Haywood. Haywood received 16 votes from a statewide survey of coaches .
There is a certain coaching philosophy that Haywood follows that he believes keeps everything on the right track. He works hard to pass on that wisdom to his players and the people around him. Wisdom, which has undoubtedly been acquired through years of perseverance and lessons learned.
“I’ve never been a big believer in individual awards. That’s what I always tell my players. If you are fortunate enough to be recognized for what you have done then cherish it in knowing that it’s not really just about you. It’s about being a part of something that is bigger than you. With this award I have to take the same attitude, without the players and the staff then this wouldn’t have happened,” said Haywood. He continued by saying, “We have great players, coaches, staff, school support, and community that all comes together to help make this possible. This award can definitely be shared by everyone involved. This program and this community is certainly bigger than any one person.”
Coaching along with Haywood is Todd Cassell, Nathan Coleman, Anthony Tackett, Matt Varney, David Jones, James Rowe, Johnathan Wright, Casey Lequire, P.J. Wright, Jim Booth, Jason Cross, Cameron Tackett, and Matt Marcum. As well as numerous individuals who all do their part to make the Belfry football program what it is. Haywood expressed his desire to recognize and honor every single person individually for all the hard work that went into making this season such a memorable one.
Haywood said, “I’ve been blessed to have all these great people surrounding me, not just the coaches but everyone surrounding the program. But, we do have coaches here that not only do the right thing as far as coaching goes but do the right thing for the kids. Coaching is so much more than just winning games; there is a lot more to it than that and I have always believed in going about things the right way. I always want people around me that share that belief and I have been fortunate to have that here.” He continued by saying, “This is a football area and a lot of people around here are very knowledgeable about football. We have some great guys around here who are willing to put in the extra effort and hours it takes to be successful for the kids and the program. They put the players through it but they also hug on them and show them love which is how it is supposed to be done.”
“Our staff takes tremendous responsibility with the offense, defense, and special teams. They all have assignments in practice that they take very seriously, they put in the extra effort by making sure the younger players are coming up as fast as they should and including them and coaching them right along with the veteran players,” said Haywood.
Haywood continued by saying,“We feel like we have a coaching staff full of coaches, it’s so much better that way because it’s not just me doing all of it. They all have input and I think that is what makes this staff so successful. That’s another reason of why I say it’s not just about me, there are so many of us that work together to make all of this work.”
Haywood has been doing this for a very long time, 41 years, and has picked up wisdom over time that he has compiled into a winning recipe, not just for football but for life. “If you look at your life based on your achievements then I believe you are looking at things the wrong way. The thing to look at is if you’re making a difference; that’s something that is not measurable.” Haywood continued by saying, “If you keep the mindset of thinking, if I can live my life in a way where every day or year of my life I am focused on making a positive impact on someone’s life then that is a much better way to be. If you can help make someone else’s life better because of your actions then there are no time limits. I will continue to coach as long as I feel I can still positively impact lives the way I have been blessed to do.”
Looking forward, Belfry shows no signs of slowing down, considering they have a lot of players returning next season. The positive impact that Coach Haywood emits may extend to affect more generations and into untouched areas as the legacy surrounding the Belfry Pirates continues to grow.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)