High school football coach has heart attack at halftime, stays to coach second half

Jack Baer
·3-min read

Daryl Hayes, the head coach of the St. John's Catholic Prep football team in Maryland, was relatively muted following a 53-0 loss last Saturday to potentially end the season, according to John Cannon of The Frederick News-Post.

His wife reportedly noticed it from the stands and his assistant coach noticed. The aforementioned score and taxing nature of a pandemic-altered season might have explained that lack of energy, but there was apparently a different reason.

Hayes had reportedly experienced a heart attack. And kept coaching for the rest of the second half. Seriously.

Heart attack fails to stop high school coach

The heart attack reportedly began at halftime, and was caused by a blood clot that blocked 99 percent of an artery connected to Hayes’ left ventricle. Despite worsening chest pains throughout the second half, then numbness in his left limbs, Hayes stayed on the sidelines.

Not only did Hayes stay for the game, he also reportedly went through a postgame meeting with players and an interview with a reporter before being pulled away by the school’s athletic director.

According to his wife, it’s a wonder how Hayes made it through the experience.

"He is lucky to be alive," Kelly Hayes said on Sunday. "We really dodged a bullet. It was too close of a call for my comfort, but he made it through. That's a relief."

Hayes was reportedly taken to a nearby hospital after the game, where doctors cleared the blockage and inserted a stent. He was reportedly discharged Monday and not expected to have lingering damage.

Hayes’ condition — which, again, was a heart attack — was apparently even a surprise to those that were coaching with him during the game:

"I didn't know," said Vikings assistant coach Kevin O'Rourke. "We're on the headphones, we're talking, we're coaching football. He never stopped.

"In fact, I remarked to another coach last night after the game that he seemed the calmest he had ever been coaching," O'Rourke said. "He's quite animated, he's passionate. You know, he's a football coach."

Making the situation even more surreal is that it could have reportedly been so much worse had Hayes not been so focused on the game that he neglected to take his heart medication from a pervious surgery:

Hayes had bypass surgery in January 2018. That's why he had a case of nitroglycerin pills in his pocket during Saturday's game. Caught up in coaching, though, he didn't take the pills. That lack of action, which normally would've angered Kelly, might've saved the coach's life.

"Thank God he didn't take that medicine because it would've opened up all the vessels really wide, which is what it does to increase blood flow," Kelly said. "And that would've probably, the doctors said, increased his chances that that blood clot would've traveled up to his brain and could've potentially caused a major stroke or an aneurism."

Even though Hayes’ team is now 1-2, his heart attack game could be its final game of the year. A season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic could also be ended early by the pandemic after cancelation of multiple games on the St. John’s schedule, though the program reportedly hopes to schedule more games.

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