Russ Hayden can’t help but smile these days. Success has a way of doing that to a coach.
And few have been more successful than the Tahoma baseball coach through the years. Hayden, in his 16th season at the helm of the Tahoma program, notched his 200th coaching win April 18 with a 9-8 victory over Kentridge.
“It was great because it came in a 9-8 ballgame that we had to scrounge and scratch for everything,” smiled Hayden, reflecting days later on the accomplishment.
The win boosted Hayden’s career mark to an impressive 200-132-4.
And though in recent years it has seemed easy for the Hayden-led Bears, it hasn’t always been that way, the coach insisted.
“It took me a long time to get there because when we went from (Class) 2A to (Class) 4A (in 1997), for the first five years, we stunk. We did not win many games,” he said. “The way these guys have played the last couple of years, 25 percent of my wins came in the last three years.”
No doubt, Hayden is clearly in the midst of his most successful run with the Bears, who’ve finished among the top four at state in each of the last two years and also took third in 2003. A matter of fact, heading into play this past weekend, Hayden had compiled a 102-36 record since 2003.
Tahoma has reached the state playoffs five times during Hayden’s tenure.
“I coached junior high for 10 years (before taking over at Tahoma) and had seven championships, two seconds and a third,” Hayden laughed. “It was like, “No problem.’ But it was a big jump for me, a totally different program.”